Brunei bank poised to help grow MSMEs

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin /ANN) - Begining its operations last year, Bank Usahawan is all set to meet the financial ambitions of entrepreneurs for Brunei’s future.

To date, Bank Usahawan has approved five disbursements of loans worth over half a million in various sectors ranging from agriculture to manufacturing, to the services industry.

With a number of potential projects in the pipeline, Bank Usahawan is expected to double its disbursement of loans by the end of this month. It hopes to reach between 50 and 60 disbursements by the end of this year.

These latest developments and progress were highlighted yesterday by Bank Usahawan Chief Executive Officer Udo Schedel during the bank’s first Hari Raya open office.

Minister of Finance II Dato Seri Paduka Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah attended the event in his capacity as the Chairman of Bank Usahawan.

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of Bank Usahawan, was also in attendance

On the bank’s range of services and products, Udo Schedel said, "We are Syariah-compliant regarding our products and operation. We have two products, namely Assets Financing Murabaha - to finance fixed assets or/and working capital for entrepreneurs and businesses; and Working Capital Financing Tawarruq - to finance operating expenses and stocks or/and working capital.

"Our focus group is entrepreneurs; we don’t offer any retail services, no deposits, no credit cards. We are purely equity finance from the Ministry of Finance, with the aim of helping to diversify the economy."

He added, "We had a case, where we managed the disbursement of a loan within two weeks. Our processing time is faster than other banks, depending on meeting the requirements.

"We are looking at opening other branches in other districts, and we are also planning to implement and improve digital services over the next year."

With eight locals among its list of employees, Bank Usahawan is seeking to hire more local staff for further expansion.

The bank’s mission is to improve access to a broad range of appropriate financial services for the majority of Brunei businesses in a sustainable and efficient manner, while its vision is to be the leading provider of financial services to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of Brunei.