Topnotch help for food SMEs

Topnotch help for food SMEs

2nd September, 2010

A business “incubator” programme is in the works to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) strengthen their capabilities to process food products that have the potential to make it in overseas markets.

The Department of Agriculture and Agrifood of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources signed an agreement with SQW China Ltd for a consultancy project on the development of food processing “incubators” for local SMEs yesterday.

A business incubator refers to a programme that allows young enterprises to receive mentoring in developing their businesses.SME

The project’s first phase will see SQW China providing its expertise in the conduct of a thorough study and research, to help the department establish the upcoming Food Processing Incubators.

The incubators programme aims to help local agri-food processing entrepreneurs to develop expertise in production and marketing with focus on halal food production, quality and food safety processes, and generate local products with better chances of penetrating both the local and global markets.

Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM DSU Dr Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, director of the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, said: “We have to help the SMEs meet the global standard of food processing, if they want to enter into the global market.”

Gary Ho, managing director of SQW China Ltd, said, “SMEs are currently facing a good and fast growing international market” and that the incubators can help facilitate their bid to explore international markets, specifically in the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, Europe and the United Kingdom.

SQW China Ltd will develop a detailed master plan which includes the concept design for the incubators.

The estimated time for the completion of Phase 1 is “approximately 12 months”, the department said in a press release.

Jim Jessamine, senior consultant of SQW China, said the importance of the incubators is to “enable the SMEs to expand into certain levels of expertise”, using new types of equipment, new techniques and new products.

“Basically we will be holding their hands through the process … and we want to work with people who are out there, with ideas on how they can make a business, or create a new product, and we’ll be there to help them do it, with the government’s assistance,” said Jessamine.

During the course of the study, SQW China Ltd and the department will be finding details on how to set up the incubators, what should be built, how it should be managed, the human resources needed and how it should be funded.

“We would also need to know how much local support the local companies will need, and at the end of this there will be a functioning incubator that will take the product to mind,” he said.

On the need to acquire a foreign consultant for the project, Hjh Normah said: “When we develop something in Brunei, we don’t have the experience of the export market … so we have to be competitive, and if we were to do the planning, it will not be accurate, and there will be a lot of challenges.”

Source: The Brunei Times