Brunei has an open economy favorable to foreign trade and FDI. As it continues to diversify its economic away from its long reliance on oil and gas exports. Investment opportunities in Brunei are driven both by government planning and consumer demand.
FDI is important to Brunei as it plays a key role in economic and technological development. Brunei encourages FDI in the domestic economy through various investment incentives offered by the Energy and Industry Department (Prime Minister’s Office). This through activities conducted by the Ministry of Foreign and Trade and the BEDB.
Formed in 2001, the BEDB promotes Brunei as an investment destination to move its economy away from oil and gas revenue. BEDB is mandated to work with foreign and domestic investors to develop new economic opportunities where Brunei has competitive advantages, focusing on four key growth areas: attracting investments, strengthening local businesses, increasing Research and Development (R&D) and innovation, and delivering infrastructure projects.
Top 10 e-commerce websites in Brunei
Global, regional and national e-commerce websites have already taken the sea-eagle’s share of the Brunei market. Yet, with fast-growing volumes, current actors and newcomers can still change the forces in presence. Here are the current leaders of e-commerce websites in 2017.
SimilarWeb Monthly Traffic Estimate (Jun 2017): 2,450,000. Zalora see the potential market in Malaysian and Brunei Darussalam people, so they approach the same market as Malaysia in Brunei. Leading the followers’ pack, Zalora is the largest and fastest growing e-commerce site in Southeast Asia specialized in fashion. Enabling fashion brands to sell their products to the site’s visitors. Zalora started on 2012 by Rocket Internet. It is present in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and has recently launched in Taiwan.
The first business-to-business e-commerce platform in China (pictured) – will be conducting a two day bootcamp starting April 18 to train and upgrade Brunei businesses on cross-border trade using e-commerce. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Cross-Border E-commerce Training (APEC CBET), an initiative under the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) of China, hones in on the necessary steps for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need to take to get started in the global digital trade.
This begins with shifting the mindset of business owners from traditional to digital business, before involving decision makers and employees to acquire the skills and knowledge on how-to run a business based off a digital model and finally integrating and transforming a company’s business models through a combination of online and offline trade using digital platforms. According to their website, DH gate was founded in 2004, with approximately 10 million global buyers from 230 countries and regions, with 1.4 million sellers offering 40 million products. The platform allows buyers to directly purchase and connect with global manufacturers from leading brands.
SimilarWeb Monthly Traffic Estimate (Jun 2017): 1,200,000. The Brunei local site from the American e-commerce giant, eBay was originally created for consumer-to-consumer sales. Having expanded since into business-to-consumer products and special deals, eBay Brunei caters to all general products categories.
It comes as no surprise that reservations to Fashion Valet’s (FV) first talk and meet up in Brunei were full within hours – the Malaysian e-commerce company is making waves within the region, at a pace only matched by the growing celebrity of its founder Vivy Yusof.
The 29-year-old joined her husband, Fadzarudin Shah Anuar, FV’s CEO, in sharing their entrepreneurial journey with Bruneian designers and entrepreneurs at the Design and Technology building earlier today, as part of a collaboration with Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe).
“A misconception people have is that if they’re a local brand, they automatically expect that you support it,” said Fadza. “Having this entitlement is what will prevent you from looking at your product or service critically and improving on it. Yes we want to support local. But what you are offering, and what you should always be striving for is to meet and exceed the desires and needs of your customers.”
And while the couple widely agree on the power of personal branding and gaining a following, they point out that entrepreneurs should always stay grounded, especially when the media come calling after your first semblance of success. Vivy says she makes it a point to mingle and greet her employees every time she enters the office – regardless of her mood.
Thepoplook sells clothing and accessories for teen girls. They offer free shipping throughout Malaysia via Poslaju and even to Singapore using SF Express Courier Service. With a purchase of RM1000 in a single receipt, thepoplook provides free international shipping to every other country except Israel. Following UK sizes, thepoplook also has sales of up to 60% every so often.
PandaHall is a federation of Chinese factories and also the Chinese Small Merchandise online market. We retail and wholesale Beads & Findings including jade, silver, pearl, gemstone, lampwork glass and crystal items etc. Our survey research indicate 38% Brunei people browse the site. PandaHall use drop shipping wholesaler methods for jewelry and beads market in Brunei Darussalam.
Asos is well-known internationally as a preferred online clothing destination for men and women. They sell different brands and even have their own label. Most importantly, they offer free shipping to over 190 different countries with no minimum purchase required.
The founder of Bruvera, Saedah Hasnal grew up without the expectation of opening up a business. A young lady with intentions that are nothing but sincere, her establishment of Bruvera is a reflection of the said characteristics, for Bruvera is a platform for Bruneian brands to showcase and sell their products easily, with an added Bruneian flair at that.
Bruvera is one of the platforms under DARe’s Made in Brunei Initiative to create awareness and promote locally made products through various offline and online channels, to reduce the barriers to entry for micro and small local entrepreneurs to sell and reach a wider customer base and also to support the development and growth of local products in order for them to reach international standards and be export-ready. DARe is the national statutory body that aims to nurture and support local enterprises in Brunei from start-up to growth.
Indonesia-based fashion e-commerce platform HijUp.com announced today that it has received an undisclosed amount of capital in a funding round. The round was led by Fenox VC and SkyStar Capital with participation from global investors including 500 Startups.
According an official statement, the funding will be used to accelerate local growth, before expanding its services into international communities. “Indonesia is one of the largest Muslim markets in the world and has the potential to become la capitale mondiale de la mode Muslim (the fashion capital of the Muslim world),” stated Diajeng Lestari, Founder and CEO, HijUp.com.
Launched in 2011, HijUp is an online e-commerce platform that connects designers and their prospective buyers. The site specialises in selling fashion wear for Muslim women, including clothing, hijabs, headscarves, accessories and so on.
BRUNEI’s Halal brand, which capitalises on its strict nature and the country’s reputation as an Islamic country, continues to be a key area in which to diversify from its oil and gas economy. Brunei’s Halal certification has a reputation on its strictness which had brought in much international attention.
In June, Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Meynardo Montealegre said that officials from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos recently met with Brunei authorities to discuss areas of cooperation. In October, Brunei’s Halal industry took a step forwards as a memorandum of understanding between local food company AZ Food (B) Sdn Bhd, Tunisia-based Catering and International Trading and the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) was signed to establish the construction of a $90 million Halal Food Manufacturing Plant by the fourth quarter of 2017.
It will reportedly be situated on a 4.48 hectare site in the Salambigar Industrial Park and creates 206 new jobs, generate more export revenues, transfer technology and skills to locals and create business opportunities for small and medium businesses. The facility will prepare ready-made halal meals using locally-sourced raw materials, manufacture packaging materials and assemble vending machines that will be used to distribute the packaged meals. “The packaged food, which would have a shelf life of 24 months, is intended to be exported to markets in ASEAN and beyond, where it will be distributed through vending machines and retail stores,” said the BEDB. Meanwhile, another foreign investor into the Brunei Halal Food sector said that plans were on track to soon begin manufacturing of ready-to-eat Halal meals from Brunei.
Mustafa said today’s generation wants to have the principles behind the certification “which is good food, clean and socially conscious that they do not want products depriving local producing population of economic opportunity that are not socially fair in their development or are not sustainable”. “They want their core values in the creation of these halal products and brands and that these values are very significant in their economic decision making,” he added.
Rise of Brunei Startup Ecosystem
Eight Brunei entrepreneurs are taking part in their first ASEAN Plus Three Young Entrepreneurs Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to deliberate on the role of young and women entrepreneurs in building East Asia’s economic community from 24th to 25th August 2017. The delegates, coming from a diverse range of industries, are also hoping to use the opportunity to network with other young entrepreneurs from ASEAN and the plus three nations of China, Japan and South Korea, and to explore the latest economic trends and developments taking place within East Asia.
The forum, open to high potential, young entrepreneurs below 40. Covers presentations and discussion on the roles of women and young entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) development, trade and economics in East Asia. And how to best provide support and give access to resources to entrepreneurs for the benefit of SMEs development and the development of the ASEAN community.
“Joining the forum will give us the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with ASEAN entrepreneurs, said Hj Syed Mohd Yassin Bin Hj Syed Anayatullah Shah, CEO of event management company BattlePro. “With networking, we can also learn new innovative means to improve projects in mind.”
Huwaida Ishaaq, the co-founder of publishing, advocacy and communications company Heartwrite Co. agreed saying, “This is a way for us to share our values and meet other people who are similarly focused on creating a better world, in their own countries, in ASEAN and beyond.”