Thirty women were selected as the first cohort of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs in Brunei, allowing them to take part in a six-month training and mentoring programme that is designed to kick-start and develop their businesses.
The inaugural launch which is a partnership between the Embassy of the United States of America in Bandar Seri Begawan and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) saw 186 applications when it opened for registration from 21 September to 11 October 2021.
In a virtual launch, DARe revealed that the cohort represents a diverse group of Bruneian women with interests including food and beverage production, graphic design, fashion, educational training and information services.
U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Emily Fleckner during the event noted that the overwhelming response to the programme was a testament to the entrepreneurial drive of Bruneian women.
The launch was timed to support Brunei in its ASEAN chair year by advancing a mutual goal of empowering women to help drive economic prosperity, she added.
“AWE directly supports several of ASEAN’s economic and socio-cultural deliverables, including promoting investment, financial literacy, gender equality, and the empowerment of women,” said the Charge d’Affaires.
Fleckner further said that there are many women out there with good ideas about a business they would like to start but not been able to take the next step to make their ideas reality.
“AWE can help… not only through the skills they will learn but also through the friendships they will make,” she said.
Javed added that entrepreneurship provides all the breadth and flexibility required to let women turn this overwhelming variety of pandemic-induced challenges into an equal number of economic opportunities.
The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs uses facilitators and mentors to guide participants through an online programme called DreamBuilder.
It includes courses on marketing, product design, sales generation, accounting, and management that will equip women with the tools needed to create and grow their own businesses, raise capital, and develop a business plan.
Participants will undertake 13 modules taking approximately 30 hours to complete under the initiative with the assistance of DARe facilitators.
At the conclusion of the course, participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a chance to receive up to USD$3,000 in seed funding.
The DreamBuilder programme was developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.
The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is a worldwide initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.
Since its launch in 2019, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs has been implemented in 53 countries in every region of the world with Brunei joining the list of countries for the first time this year.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN