Baiduri Bank is an important entity to look out for for Entrepreneurs for two main reasons; firstly, it has one of the most comprehensive and tailored products designed with the SMEs in mind. Secondly, Baiduri Bank is an embodiment of local success story backed by impressive scores of awards and track record.
Baiduri Bank was recently awarded Brunei’s Company of the Decade by World Finance Magazine. According to the esteemed magazine, “the Company of the Decade” awards represent the supreme accolade for companies that have performed exceptionally and proven themselves as dynamic forces in their industry over the past 10 years.” In 2010, it was named the Bank of the Year for Brunei by The Banker magazine; the bank swept the same award SEVEN times in the last nine years. The group’s profit before tax in 2009 was a stunning 65% increase over the year before, amounting to BND 56 Million. Total assets of the group at the end of 2010 stood at BND2.7bn , ranking the group among the top financial institutions in Brunei.
We tap into the mind of Pierre Imhof, Baiduri Bank’s General Manager on their support for the Brunei SMEs, Baiduri Bank’s secret of success, management wisdom plus the pocket of opportunities in the Brunei Market.
Baiduri Bank has been cited to play an active role in the development of SMEs in Brunei in 2010. One of the key initiatives was the co-sponsorship of Local Business Development conference organised by Asia Inc Forum. Why the emphasis on SMEs?
Being a local bank ourselves, we have made it our commitment to nurture and develop locals, and this includes individuals and local businesses. Our partnership in the Asia Inc Forum LBD is one of several programmes we are involved in that allow us to fulfill this objective. Besides the LBD, we also participate in two other programmes with similar objective. First is Brunei Shell’s Local Business Development Coaching Scheme Initiative (CSi) for Shell contractors. Second is a financing programme held in collaboration with the MIPR, where we offer financing to locals SMEs under the Enterprise Facilitation Scheme and the Micro-Credit Scheme. We place emphasis on SMEs for two main
reasons; One, the majority of local businesses fall under this category.
The other is because we see it as our social obligation to the country to nurture and develop local businesses, and it is an area where we are well equipped in.
Tell us about your credit facilities extended to SMEs.
Developing our relationship with SMEs has always been a priority to us. Baiduri Bank is well positioned with various products designed specifically with SMEs focus.
Our flagship products that are immensely popular amongst the SMEs are as follows:
Micro-Credit Scheme and Enterprise Facilitation Scheme, both of which are endorsed by and in collaboration with MIPR. Others include; SME Financing, Corporate Banking Facilities tailored made to suit individual business requirements and a series of facilities that makes doing business easy; like guarantees, letter of credit and business internet banking.
It is interesting to note that of the applicants who successfully applied for the Micro- Credit Scheme and Enterprise Facilitation Scheme, more than 70% of them went on to do well with their business. Consider the fact that only One in Five people who starts their business will actually survive, this is indeed an encouraging statistic!
What are the bank’s secrets for winning 7 Bank of the Year Award in the last nine years and the unprecedented 65% growth in Business in 2009?
There are many factors to our success; first and most importantly, we have a consistently strong leadership provided by a management team consisting of members who have been there for a long time, thus providing consistency, focus and continuity.
Secondly, we have an unrivalled local knowledge and understanding of our clients’ needs is our priority. We are extremely responsive to market changes through a series of product innovation and local integration.
Thirdly, we have a strong desire and willingness to continually reassess organizational goals, realign priorities and streamline our process to serve our customers better.
What are some of the advice you can give to the local SMEs to follow your success?
Be ambitious and set high expectations – for yourself and your company. Just because we are a small country does not mean that we cannot be competitive. Being local has its advantage. Take Baiduri Bank forexample, we are able to benefit from our local knowledge to have a competitive advantage over the foreign banks that may not fully adapt to the local culture.
Innovation and Creativity – always strive to be the first in what you do. By that we mean first mover advantage. Be the first to do the things that your competitors are not doing. For example, Baiduri Bank was the first to offer in-store and in-mall banking seven days a week. We were the first and only bank to introduce the next generation mobile suite of services, which provide 24-7 banking services via the mobile phone. Did you know that no other bank in Brunei have an ATM that dispenses US Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Euros and Brunei Dollar?
Niche products, Marketing and Customer Service – For a new business venture, it would be impossible to try to serve every market segment. You will need to identify the niche market you wish to compete in and develop products targeted at them. Equally important is the need to invest in marketing activities and practice good customer service.
Transparency and Communication – It is important to have a clear internal communication where the staff knows exactly what to expect and what is going on. Equally important, is the ability to manage public and clients’ expectations. Are you having a good relationship with all your stakeholders: the media, your clients, your banks, your suppliers? Do you constantly stay close to your clients to understand what they need?
What are the areas of opportunities for SMEs in Brunei?
The bulk of the economic activities in Brunei is still heavily reliant on the Oil and Gas industry and the Government projects. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to gear your business towards supporting the needs of these two important sectors. Choosing the right partner and supplier, and having good understanding of the niche market you decide to serve is extremely important.
Real Estate Development, Construction – There is a continuous need in infrastructure in Brunei, for more residential housing and apartments. The reward is substantial if you have the vision to pick the right location. One needs to be extremely vigilant and selective as this may also be a high-risk investment.
Explore the Halal Market – as this has been identified as a major area of diversification, with strong support of the government.