Welcoming Brunei’s first cohort for Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

The Embassy of the United States of America in Bandar Seri Begawan and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) announced the first cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs in Brunei today. The 30 women selected will participate for up to six months in a facilitated training and mentoring program designed to help them start and grow their own businesses. 

During a virtual launch event, DARe revealed that the 30 participants were selected from 186 applications for the program. The cohort represents a diverse group of Bruneian women with interests including food and beverage production, graphic design, fashion, educational training and information services. 

U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Emily Fleckner, who spoke during the launch event, noted the overwhelming response to the program was a testament to the entrepreneurial drive of Bruneian women. She said the launch was timed to support Brunei in its ASEAN chair year by advancing a mutual goal of empowering women to help drive economic prosperity. 

“AWE directly supports several of ASEAN’s economic and socio-cultural deliverables, including promoting investment, financial literacy, gender equality, and the empowerment of women.” Charge d’Affaires Fleckner said. 

DARe’s Chief Executive Officer Javed Ahmad also shared some remarks and addressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, especially for women. “In Brunei Darussalam, on top of a regular job, many women started their own businesses to supplement their income, but for some of you, this is your full-time commitment – on top of being a mother, a wife, a daughter or a sister. We admire you for the courage and determination to give this your full-time commitment” said Javed Ahmad.

The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs uses facilitators and mentors to guide participants through an online program called DreamBuilder. This program includes courses on marketing, product design, sales generation, accounting, and management that equip women with the tools needed to create and grow their own businesses, raise capital, and develop a business plan. Participants will undertake 13 modules taking approximately 30 hours to complete under the program with the assistance of DARe facilitators. At the conclusion of the course, participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a chance to receive up to USD$3,000 in seed funding. 

The DreamBuilder program was developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan. 

The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is a worldwide initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. Since its launch in 2019, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs has been implemented in 53 countries in every region of the world with Brunei joining the list of countries for the first time this year.