Japanese Scholar Advises Brunei Smes

Bandar Seri Begawan – Bruneian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
need to capitalise on the Sultanate’s good name to get their products
exported, particularly in the Japanese high-end retail market, a
visiting Japanese academician said yesterday.

Ramon Meguro, entrepreneurship professor from the Tokyo University
of Technology’s Graduate School of Business, said that although Brunei
is largely unknown to consumers globally, the country has already
earned itself several positive traits which are associated with the
word “Brunei”.

As far as Brunei business is concerned, the country’s image is very
important. You have to use that country brand,” he said during a
workshop on branding and its benefits to SMEs, held at The Empire Hotel
& Country Club.

“When Japanese (consumers) hear ‘Brunei’, they think ‘rich country,
gorgeous (environment)’ and they think of the royal family. There are
very big advantages to sell products to Japan,” he added.

Professor Meguro told The Brunei Times that since the “Brunei brand”
is nascent in nature and is still growing, the country’s image needed
to be developed in the right direction for the SMEs to be able to use
the name as a marketing tool.

He said that strong government backing is a must-have to advertise and promote the country’s image.

The Japanese academician suggested that the government set up a shop
in one of Japan’s central business districts, which would not only sell
Bruneian products, but the shop itself should also reflect Brunei’s
image to Japanese consumers.

“You need to build a beautiful shop, one that (portrays) the beauty
of Brunei,” he said. Once established, the shop and the development of
the country’s brand would serve as a link to the Japanese retail market
for the SMEs to penetrate.

He explained that since it would be more difficult for SMEs to
promote their products for export themselves, the using of the
country’s brand would facilitate the process.

Professor Meguro cited Thailand’s country image as an example, where
the popularity of Thai silk and culture of Thai cuisine has also washed
on to its national carrier. He said that Brunei could develop its
country’s branding in a similar way.

“The country’s image could also serve as a guarantee of quality assurance like Swiss watches or German cars,” he added.

Recently, the Sultanate has launched several major initiatives to
market products using the Brunei brand. Of particular note was the
Brunei Halal Brand, which hopes to capitalise on the country’s
reputation as a strictly Islamic adherent nation to market halal
products internationally.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) has also
teamed up with Singapore-based Consulus Pte Ltd to launched Brunei’s
first brand of luxurious biscuits, Serijunjung, that will harness the
capabilities of small enterprises to churn out Malay delicacies for
consumers in cities like London, Dubai and Tokyo.

The two-day workshop, which is a partnership between the Brunei
Economic Development Board (BEDB) and the Asean-Japan Centre, was
opened yesterday, inviting participants from the Women’s

Business Council, MIPR’s entrepreneurial development programme and
other SME assistance schemes. A majority of these SMEs specialised in
producing local handicrafts and food.

In his remarks, BEDB CEO Vincent Cheong spoke of the importance of
branding and BEDB’s vision of “Made-inBrunei” products being identified
as high quality, premium products.

Already, we are seeing some of our local SMEs being approached by
overseas suppliers who have come to appreciate the value of our local
products. With this in mind, we hope to work together with our
stakeholders to ensure that our local businesses grow beyond Brunei and
to see our Made-in Brunei products on the shelves of supermarkets and
homes around the region and even the world,” Cheong said.– Courtesy of The Brunei Times