WOMEN, food and virtual marketing are three elements in a trend sweeping the nation since last year.
More women are seen entering the virtual food business by promoting and trading their products through social networks such as Facebook.
This was highlighted by Haslina Taib, Chief Executive Officer of BAG Networks in her welcoming remarks during a women's gathering hosted by the organisation yesterday. "More and more women are selling their delicious baked goods and other tempting morsels through blog sites, Facebook and the telephone. This virtual community is expanding where now more and more Facebook users at least have one like (thumbs up) on a page related to food," she said.
"The real question is, is this the new alternative to perfect competition? Without getting too lost in the terminology presented in economics?" she asked the audience. She listed the specific characteristics of the terminology which include infinite buyers and sellers, zero entry and exit barriers, zero transaction costs, profit maximisation, perfect information and homogeneous products.
"At first glance, it is a possibility the virtual food business fits these characteristics. However, a deeper question is needed to be asked, whether businesses being ventured into are those which can sustain Brunei's economy or are we simply following a trend. There is no right or wrong answer but it is all a matter of perspective, and in this case, a woman's perspective," she said.
"As one of the members of the Apec Business Advisory Council or Abac, we collectively intend to carry the torch of asking the Apec Leaders to champion womens participation in the workforce in particular by promoting entrepreneurship and greater leadership for women in business and government throughout the region," she added.
Haslina said this was raised during the recent Apec Women's Entrepreneurship Summit held in Japan and it will continue to be addressed at the next Abac Meeting next month. "In Brunei Darussalam, 92 per cent of employment in the private sector are provided by SMEs and as of March 2006, 62 per cent of beneficiaries of micro-credit financing schemes are women. This shows women businesses are indeed one of the strongest clusters that make up SMEs, an important group for economic growth and integration"
BAG Networks yesterday hosted a women's gathering where the informal focus group discussed specifically on the success and the future of SMEs in the food industry.
The forum highlighted four areas for discussion: Access to markets nationally and internationally; Access to funding and financial services; Access to skills enhancement and scaling up; and Innovation for Business Growth and Networking.
"We are gathered here today to contribute to today's discussion in how can we ensure the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continue to be resolved so as to meet Brunei Darussalam's long-term development plan, the Wawasan 2035 to enhance opportunities for local small and medium enterprises as well as ensure the ease of doing business," said Haslina, adding, "At the same time, we hope to enable Bruneians to achieve leadership in business by developing greater competitive strength."
Among those who attended the discussion was Datin Paduka Hjh Rokiah Hj Zakiah, President of Women Business Council, Fauziah DSP Hj Talib, Managing Partner of IQ Quest Company and Allen Lai, Director of Asia Inc Forum.