New breeding ground for nation's future entrepreneurs

The Brunei Economic Development Board's (BEDB) deputy CEO, Dr Abdul Manaf Hj Metussin (2nd R), and Linda Rimer (2nd L), the president and CEO for Junior Achievement Worldwide (Asia Pacific Region), sign documents during the launch of the JA Brunei Pilot Project yesterday at Jerudong International School. Picture: Courtesy of the BEDB

Sunday, September 2, 2012

THE Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) yesterday signed a collaborative agreement with Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide to launch a pilot entrepreneurship education programme in Brunei.

The JA Pilot Project is designed to inspire and prepare students to succeed in the global economy, utilising hands-on curriculum delivered by the programme volunteers which focuses on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness skills.

The agreement was signed between the BEDB's Youth Development Resources, represented by its chairman, BEDB Deputy CEO Dr Abdul Manaf Hj Metussin, and Linda Rimer, president and CEO for Asia Pacific Region of JA Worldwide.

Present as the guest of honour of the launch was Dato Paduka Hj Ali Apong, the Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of the BEDB.

In his welcoming remarks, BEDB CEO Vincent Cheong said the collaboration with JA Worldwide is intended to enhance the financial literacy and impart entrepreneurial skills to youths in our schools.

"We hope that through JA programmes, we can cultivate a generation of enterprising and innovative youth talents willing to explore starting up their own businesses as a career option when they grow up," he said.

The CEO said that the launch of the pilot project marked a significant milestone in the BEDB's efforts to promote entrepreneurship and encourage startups in the Sultanate.

"In the longer term, we are confident that there will be a pipeline for new startups nurtured by BEDB's iCentre, Creative Arts Facilities (CRAFT) and other incubators, and be eligible for various financial assistance schemes offered by the Brunei Government such as BEDB's Local Enterprise Applications and Products (LEAP) grant scheme for prototype funding and DST/BEDB/AITI's Future Fund for venture capital investment into early stage startup businesses, among others," he added.

The Pilot Project will offer three specific JA programmes: JA More than Money for ages seven to 11, JA Economics for Success for ages 10 to 14, and JA Company Programme for ages 15 and 18.

Jerudong International School (JIS), which has partially sponsored the pilot project, will be the first to launch JA Programmes as an after-school activity in their new academic year this month, utilising their facilities for the training workshops beginning Monday. Also sponsoring for the pilot project was UEM Builders Corporate Citizenship Programme.

The project received approval from the Ministry of Education. Beginning the next academic year 2013, the ministry will launch the programme at three sites involving 11 government schools.

Upon the success of the pilot project, the BEDB will apply Brunei to JA Worldwide as International Member and setup 'JA Brunei' with dedicated resources to expand the programme with the support of corporate sponsors.

Cheong also lauded the support of the local business community towards the pilot project.

"So far, in addition to the BEDB, we have more than 80 volunteers from BAG Networks, Baiduri Bank, HSBC and the Standard Chartered Bank," he said.

The CEO said that all these organisations will be led by their CEOs and senior management team members to be volunteer JA programme teachers at the participating schools in the next six months.

"For this initiative to be successful, we require the support of both the public and the private sectors not only for volunteers to participate in and deliver the programmes, but also on financial sponsorship to sustain and expand this initiative to cover more schools and introduce more programmes," he added.

Founded in 1919, JA is a US-based non-profit youth organisation with operations in over 120 countries.

The organisation is a partnership between the business community, educators and volunteers to deliver experiential programmes to students.

The Brunei Times