As a Bornean (Sarawakian to be exact), 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. So I have very little knowledge about what the Sarawakian and Sabahan startup ecosystem is like or who the players are at all.
Through the fifth edition of the annual Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE program, I spoke to 5 winners consisting of local startups that are new to me and I would love to introduce them to our readers as well.
EdaBeran is an e-commerce market that allows local (mostly Sarajevo) brands to place their cultural products on a global audience. Many times it would be difficult for you to find these microbrands from urban areas, even more so those from rural areas.
At EdaBeran, there are clothing brands, accessories, and even beauty products for artisans and budding entrepreneurs, and the startup claims that it will reinvest most of its profits in the brands it serves.
Moses co-founded the business with his sister Christal, just a week before the MCO 2020 first hit. Coming from the community of Kenya and Kayan from the rural parts of Baram, Sarawak gives Moses the urge to prove that an indigenous man like him can succeed in the world and make changes in rural communities.
He believes that there are 3 ways to develop communities in rural areas: through education, good governance and entrepreneurship, the latter which he deals with and influences others in the community.
“Our goal at the moment is to encourage more people, especially in Borneo, to start entrepreneurship. We believe we are capable of being the best storytellers in Borneo, ”Moses said.
When the pandemic began, Mohammad Hajib bin Ali saw that many supermarkets had emptied. 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 apply high technology, which 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 young entrepreneurs who want to be available, providing the public with detailed knowledge about modern agriculture, as well as using landfills as agricultural land,” Hajib told the Vulcan Post. I was reminded of the first initiative he mentioned CocoJack, a startup that brings agritech and education to young people from B40.
Currently, Farm4All has not yet been launched, and Hajib has joined Shell LiveWIRE 2020 to have his idea confirmed and mentored.
The current obstacle it faces is the funding needed to implement smart agriculture, which is being addressed by seeking grants from the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies.
In 2010, Fitriah ran a small-time business and a small business in which she sold other people’s products and sold fruit on the way.
8 years later, she produced dried fruit products from terung asama (sour eggplant) under Kun Product branding, which she claims her company pioneered in Sarawak.
The transition from agent to owner and producer of its own products is a source of pride for her, with the establishment of joint investments with farmers in remote locations through long-term cultivation contracts.
“In the next 9 months, I plan to start marketing from Sarawak, because so far we have focused only on the market in Sarawak. I made all these plans in 2019, but they had to be postponed due to COVID-19, ”Fitriah shared.
If all goes as planned, they will be able to increase farmers ’incomes, bring more employment opportunities and present a unique Malaysian product through fruits associated with the indigenous Dajak people.
Maradria Beauty is a startup that develops beauty care products using local natural resources, launched in mid-2018.
“I was enchanted by the possibilities of our talented young inventors. Sarawak is also known as one of the richest biodiversity centers in the world. I tried to connect them [and thought], ‘Why don’t we still standardize our beauty products with international brands?’ Said Sara Nadia for the Vulcan Post.
Within Maradria Beauty it runs two lines: Margueritte, a fragrance brand made from local flowers and plants, and Aludra, a skin care brand made from Bornean nest nest extract and other ingredients mostly found in Sarawak. She shared that Aludra has since won several awards and received recognitions nationally and internationally.
Prior to the first MCO, Sara was looking for a partnership with potential businesses outside of Malaysia. She still wants to cooperate, but said they need to be patient for now.
Now that Maradria Beauty has won Shell LiveWIRE 2020, she has learned more practical ways to strategy, market and manage their resources. In addition, she shared, “Our main goals we will achieve in 9 months are to be among the favorite brands in Malaysia, and hopefully beyond that!”
We are going
“It is considered a random start when one thing led to another,” said Mohammad Hisham Khairul Nasir. In 2016, upon returning to his hometown of Sibu with an Australian master’s degree, he often did jobs for his mother to buy random groceries or food.
He thought he could do a lot more, so he hired his first two runners. It was picked up only from there. He recalled, “It was supposed to be an entertainment business or a small camping job that would generate side income. But it really gained momentum when the influencer shared our service and we gained significant strength. “
It was officially registered as BeliBeli24 in 2017, and was recognized by the Ministry of Finance, but soon snow started from the platform for booking goods and food to food delivery, package collection, and even on-demand maintenance.
Hisham put his foot down and decided they had to determine their direction correctly, and put BeliBeli24 on the shelf in 2019 as it developed We are going.
Today, WeGÖ is a hyperlocal super application with 4 offers:
- Services (mobile spas, mobile mechanics, home reservations, etc.)
Technology is the only thing he struggled with while the business relied on Google Sheets, WhatsApp and work email addresses. When GrabFood and foodpanda arrived in his hometown in 2020, WeGÖ was technologically superior.
Fortunately, Hisham said they have raised more than enough funds across the MCO to develop their own platform to stay competitive.
“We’ve just completed most of the platform and are testing deliveries, email and the live market, and the services section comes out later. We plan to finish all this before July 2021. “
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Five entrepreneurs each will receive a seed grant of RM 6,000,000 (from RM3,000 RM from Shell, with an additional RM 3,000 to which Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Sarawak responds), as well as mentoring and coaching support from Shell LiveWIRE facilitator for the next 9 months.
Editor update: The information in the above paragraph has been edited to reflect the greater accuracy of the statement.
The program identifies entrepreneurs with the potential to innovate and meet real business needs that meet today’s socio-economic needs. Since the founding of the Sarawakian edition in 2016, it has seen a total of 356 entrants and awarded 20 entrepreneurs with start-up grants.
I wish this year’s winners the best on their journey to bring Sarawakian stories and products to light, and I will certainly be watching out for local local entrepreneurs next year as well.
- You can learn more about Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE here.
Credits for featured images: Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE 2020