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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Asia

SMEs in Brunei use carnival to market wares

The Brunei Times/ANN | Saturday, May 3, 2014

Siti Nur Diyana Masdizam (L) of Al-Muhajirah Hijab Labuh and her staff posing for a group picture at the ‘Kembara Islam’ Carnival at the Youth Centre in the capital.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are taking the opportunity to use the first 'Kembara Islam' Carnival as a platform to expand their businesses and for foreign vendors to explore Brunei's market.

Siti Nur Diyana Masdizam of Al-Muhajirah Hijab Labuh said public response had been encouraging.

She said her booth, a collaboration with 10 other online vendors, had welcomed many visitors and customers.

Siti Nur Diyana said the decision to work together with 10 other vendors was to provide visitors all the items they need under one roof. There are many opportunities for Brunei SMEs to expand their business, she added.

She said Al-Muhajirah Hijab Labuh will continue to use social media to promote its products.

As an entrepreneur, Siti Nur Diyana was inspired at a young age to open up her business after seeing her parents start their own food business.

She hoped to bring new trends to customers in Brunei, but is also aware of the challenges in selling products that are sold elsewhere.

"The challenges are there, especially when every booth is selling the same things. But we distinguish ourselves from others by focusing on our interpersonal skills with our customers," she said.

"We started from the bottom, InsyaAllah we will work our way up provided we work hard for it," she added.

For Malaysian vendor, Hjh Rahimah Mohamed of Puncak Hallaj Enterprise, the carnival offers her the opportunity to expand her business in Brunei.

Participanting in an expo in Brunei for the first time, she is looking to get agents to distribute her handmade telekung (prayer attire for Muslimah) as well as male and children's clothing.

"I realised that it may take a long time to establish myself and my products here, but that is okay. I did not have any sales yesterday (first day of carnival) but there have been some people voicing out their interest in becoming an agent for Puncak Hallaj Enterprise," she said.

Saheda Razak, who runs a booth selling trendy Muslimah apparel at the carnival, said the event was held at a fitting time, "especially since the hudud law had just been officially implemented".

"I think it's a good way for Bruneians to show their fellow Bruneians that it is possible to get Islamic products locally, and to show people they do not need to travel outside the country to purchase items (such as clothes, books and medicines).

"We have a lot of Islamic clothing here in Brunei and it's easy and cheap to get them," Saheda pointed out.

Al Fadhil Ustaz Zul Fazlan Yusoff of Al 'iLaaj Health Centre said the carnival was "an alternative approach to attract the public, especially the youth, to know more about the messenger of Allah, while they embrace Islam".

He said such carnivals were popular in Malaysia, and that the response appeared to be similar in Brunei.

Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Battle Pro Marketing & Management Services, the carnival themed "Youth Love Allah SWT and Rasulullah SAW" comprised a variety of activities such as lectures, colouring competitions, a jawi writing competition and pony-riding. The carnival was launched on Thursday night.

The carnival was aimed at encouraging Muslims to abide by Islamic obligations as stated in the Quran and hadith, as well as to carry out His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's aspiration for Brunei to be a "Zikir nation".

The carnival, which features 24 booths, will end on Sunday. (With additional reporting by Nadzri Zailani)

The Brunei Times

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