Niche markets can diversify Brunei economy

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a key role in the identification of niche markets within Brunei’s economy, according to Associate Professor Ir Hj Sodri Hj Ariffin in a lecture held Thursday at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR).

The Malaysian expert on SMEs said the identification of niche markets will greatly enable Brunei to diversify its economy inline with achieving the wider agenda of becoming a strong competitor on an international level alongside enhancing the integrity of its people.

“Oil and gas resources are slowly depleting, so while Brunei still has this strength, it must strategise a search for niche areas whereby it can sustain its economy beyond this period; this can be done through strategic planning,” said Professor Hj Sodri, General Manager of Sodri Training and Services, in an interview with The Brunei Times.

Strategic planning involves the process of determining the direction that an organisation will undertake by analysing its strengths and weaknesses. In his lecture, the SME expert likened it to a “road map” based on a business plan that outlines the short and long-term vision.

“Identify attractive opportunities out there that matches with your organisation’s strengths. In today’s global market, you have many choices thus you must identify what is most appropriate and suitable to Brunei,” urged Professor Hj Sodri.

Taking into consideration the relatively small size of Brunei’s population and economy, Professor Hj Sodri advised local SMEs to look for opportunities not only within the country, but also to explore the growing Asian market with the aim of establishing a solid presence.

Professor Hj Sodri was invited by Dato Paduka Hj Idris Hj Belaman, Director of Karya Bumi Planning Consultants, to share his experiences and knowledge on the challenges faced by SMEs in finding opportunities for expansion.

“Our SMEs need to be equipped with the proper tools in order to become successful. The main objective of having invited an expert is to enable our would-be entrepreneurs to open up their minds and learn from the best practises adopted in other countries,” stated Dato Paduka Hj Idris.

When asked about the unique challenges faced by SMEs in Brunei, the Director of Karya Bumi Planning Consultants said the need for a paradigm shift among local jobseekers concerning the opportunities and career potentials in the private sector.

“We should be encouraging more people to go into the private sector to diversify our economy. This agenda has been a main focus for our government in recent years, but it’s up to us to explore the opportunities that exist in sectors apart from oil and gas,” he said.

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