As a Bornean (Sarawakian, specifically), I am always proud to learn and write about Bornean entrepreneurship.
But I have been living in Selangor for almost a decade and much of my work is focused on West Malaysia. Therefore, I have very little knowledge about what the Sarawakian and Sabahan home ecosystem is like, or who the players are.
Through the fifth edition of the annual Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE program, however, I have spoken to five winners consisting of local startups that are new to me, and I would also like to introduce them to our readers.
EdaBeran is an e-commerce marketplace that allows local (mostly Sarawakian) brands to market their cultural products to a global audience. Many times, it would be difficult to find these microbrands of urban, even more rural areas.
At EdaBeran, there are brands of clothing, accessories and even beauty products from budding artisans and entrepreneurs, and the startup aims to reinvest most of its profits in the brands it serves.
Moses co-founded the business with his sister, Christal, just a week before the first MCO hit in 2020. Coming from the Kenyah and Kayan community in rural Baram, Sarawak gives Moses the impetus to prove that a man indigenous as he can reach the world and make a difference in rural communities.
He believes that there are 3 ways to develop communities in rural areas: through education, good governance and entrepreneurship, with which he is taking on the latter and impacting the rest of the community.
“Our goal right now is to inspire more people, especially in Borneo, to take action. We believe we are capable of being the best narrators in Borneo, ”Moses said.
When the pandemic began, Mohammad Hajib bin Ali saw how many supermarkets were emptying. It was then that he learned about food security and realized that modern agriculture could be used to maintain our food supply.
Small farms do not implement high-tech technology that leaves them behind in terms of food production, so he founded Farm4All to introduce modern farming methods such as smart fertigation and hydroponics.
“Our initiatives include introducing agricultural business models to aspiring young entrepreneurs, providing detailed knowledge to the public about modern agriculture, and also using landfills as agricultural land,” Hajib told Vulcan Post. The first initiative he mentioned reminded me CocoJack, a startup that provides education and agricultural technology to young people B40.
So far, Farm4All has not been released yet and Hajib joined Shell LiveWIRE 2020 in order to validate his idea and receive tutoring.
The current hurdle it faces is the funding needed to implement smart agriculture, which it handles by applying for a grant from the Department of Agriculture and other agencies.
In 2010, Fitriah had a part-time, small-scale business where it marketed foreign products and, by its side, sold fruit by road.
Eight years later, it produced nuts from terung asam (sour eggplant) under the Producte Kun branding, which claims its company is a pioneer in Sarawak.
Going from being an agent to owning and manufacturing their own products is a source of pride for her, as well as establishing joint ventures with farmers in remote locations through long-term cultivation contracts.
“In the next nine months, I plan to start marketing outside of Sarawak, because so far we have only focused on the Sarawak market. All of these plans had been made in 2019, but had to be postponed due to COVID-19, ”Fitriah shared.
If all goes as planned, it will be able to increase farmers ’incomes, offer more job opportunities and introduce a unique Malay product through a fruit associated with the Dayak Indians.
Maradria Beauty is a startup that develops beauty products with local natural resources, started in mid-2018.
“I was captivated by the abilities of our talented young inventors. Sarawak is also known as one of the richest biodiversity centers in the world. I tried to put the two together [and thought]“Why don’t we still standardize our beauty products with international brands?” Sara Nadia told Vulcan Post.
Under Maradria Beauty, she runs two lines: Margueritte, a fragrance brand made from local flowers and plants, and Aludra, a skin care brand made with Swiftlet’s nest extract and other ingredients found primarily in Sarawak. He shared that Aludra has won several awards and received national and international recognition.
Prior to the first MCO, Sara was looking to partner with potential companies outside of Malaysia. He still wants to collaborate, but said he now needed patience.
Now that Maradria Beauty has won Shell LiveWIRE 2020, it has learned more practical ways of strategizing, marketing, and managing its resources. With this, he shared: “Our main goals to be achieved in 9 months is to be among the most beloved brands in Malaysia and hopefully beyond that.”
“It is considered an accidental start where one thing led to another,” said Mohammad Hisham Khairul Nasir. In 2016, when he returned to his hometown, Sibu, with an Australian master’s degree, often placed orders for his mother to buy food or food at random.
He thought he could be doing so much more, and so he hired his first 2 runners. He just grabbed from there. He recalled, “It was supposed to be a small kampung business for fun” to generate secondary income. But it really took off when an influencer shared our service and we gained a lot of strength. ”
It was officially incorporated as BeliBeli24 in 2017 and was recognized by the Ministry of Finance, but soon went from being a platform for reserving products and food to delivering food, collecting parcels and even doing a la carte cleaning service. .
Hisham put his foot down and decided they had to set their direction correctly and set aside BeliBeli24 in 2019 while developing We go.
Today, WeGÖ is a hyperlocal superapplication with 4 offers:
- Electronic acclaim
- Services (mobile spas, mobile mechanics, family bookings, etc.)
Technology is the only thing that struggled, as the company relied on Google Spreadsheets, WhatsApp and emails to run. When GrabFood and Foodpanda arrived in their hometown in 2020, WeGÖ was technologically outdated.
Fortunately, Hisham said it had raised more than enough funding from the entire MCO to develop its own platform to stay competitive.
“We have just finished most of the platform and we are testing live deliveries, electronic reception and the market, with the services section coming out later. We plan to complete everything by July 2021. “
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Through Shell LiveWIRE, the five entrepreneurs will each receive an initial grant of RM 6,000, as well as tutoring and training support from Shell LiveWIRE facilitators over the next 9 months.
The program identifies entrepreneurs with the potential to innovate and meet real business needs that meet current socioeconomic needs. Since the start of the Sarawakian edition in 2016, it has seen a total of 356 participants and has awarded 20 start-up grants to entrepreneurs.
I wish this year’s winners the best in their journey to bring Sarawakian stories and products to light, and I will definitely be looking forward to the set of local entrepreneurs next year as well.
- You can learn more about Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE here.
Featured Image Credit: Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE 2020