As a Bornean (specifically a Sarawakian), I always take pride in learning and writing about Bornean entrepreneurship.
But I’ve lived in Selangor for almost a decade now and much of my work has been concentrated in West Malaysia. As a result, I have very little knowledge of what the Sarawakian and Sabahan startup ecosystem is like or who the players are.
However, at the fifth edition of the annual Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE program, I spoke to 5 winners that are made up of local startups that are new to me and I want to introduce them to our readers as well.
EdaBeran is an e-commerce marketplace where local (mainly Sarawak) brands can market their cultural products to a global audience. Often times, you have a hard time finding these micro-brands from urban areas, even more from rural areas.
EdaBeran has apparel brands, accessories, and even beauty products from artisans and budding entrepreneurs, and the startup claims to invest most of its profits in the brands it serves.
Image credit: EdaBeran
Moses co-founded the company with his sister Christal just a week before the first MCO in 2020. Hailing from the Kenyah and Kayan community in the rural areas of Baram, Sarawak gives Moses the drive to prove that an indigenous man is like He can make it in the world and make a difference in rural communities.
He believes there are three ways to develop communities in rural areas: through education, good governance, and entrepreneurship, through which he welcomes and influences others in the community.
“Our current goal is to inspire more people, especially in Borneo, to be entrepreneurial. We believe we are capable of being the best storytellers in Borneo, ”said Moses.
When the pandemic started, Mohammad Hajib bin Ali saw many supermarkets empty. It was then that he learned about food security and realized that modern agriculture can be used to maintain our food supplies.
Small farms don’t implement high tech what they leave behind in terms of food production. That’s why he founded Farm4All to introduce modern farming methods such as intelligent fertilization and hydroponics.
“Our initiatives include introducing agricultural business models to aspiring young entrepreneurs, providing the public with in-depth knowledge of modern agriculture, and using landfills as agricultural land,” Hajib told Vulcan Post. The first initiative he mentioned reminded me of CocoJack, a startup bringing agritech and education to B40 youths.
For now, Farm4All has yet to be launched and Hajib has joined Shell LiveWIRE 2020 to validate his idea and receive mentoring.
The current obstacle is the funding required to implement smart agriculture. He asked the Ministry of Agriculture and other authorities for a grant.
In 2010, Fitriah ran a part-time and small business marketing other people’s products while also selling fruit on the street.
Eight years later, she was producing dried fruit products from Terung Asam (sour eggplant) under the Kun product branding, which she claims her company is pioneering in Sarawak.
Photo credit: Kun Product
The transition from an agent to an owner and manufacturer of her own products is a source of pride for her and the establishment of joint ventures with farmers in remote locations through long-term cultivation contracts.
“In the next 9 months I plan to start marketing from Sarawak, as we have only focused on the Sarawak market so far. I made all of these plans in 2019, but they had to be postponed because of COVID-19, ”said Fitriah.
If everything goes as planned, it can increase farmers’ incomes, create more employment opportunities and introduce a unique Malaysian product through a fruit associated with the Dayak indigenous people.
Mariadra Beauty is a startup developing beauty care products using local natural resources in mid-2018.
“I was fascinated by the skills 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 aren’t we standardizing our beauty products with international brands yet?” Sara Nadia told Vulcan Post.
Under Mariadra Beauty she has two lines: Margueritte, a fragrance brand made from local flowers and plants, and Aludra, a skin care brand made from Bornean Swiftlet Nest extract and other ingredients that are mainly found in Sarawak. She announced that Aludra has since won several awards and has been recognized nationally and internationally.
Photo credit: Margueritte
Prior to the first MCO, Sara was looking to partner with potential companies outside of Malaysia. She is still interested in working together but said that for now they need to be patient.
After winning LiveWIRE 2020, Mariadra Beauty Shell saw more practical ways to better strategize, market and manage her resources. She announced: “Our ultimate goal, which we want to achieve in 9 months, is to be one of the most popular brands in Malaysia, and hopefully beyond!”
“It is seen as a random start where one thing led to another,” said Mohammad Hisham Khairul Nasir. When he returned to his hometown of Sibu in 2016 with an Australian Masters degree, he frequently ran errands for his mother to buy random groceries or groceries.
He thought he could do a lot more and hired his first two runners. It just picked up from there. He recalled, “It should be a ‘for fun’ or small Kampung business to generate extra income. But it really took off when an influencer shared our service and we gained significant traction. “
It was officially registered as BeliBeli24 in 2017 and recognized by the Ministry of Finance, but soon evolved from a booking platform for goods and groceries to grocery delivery, parcel collection and even needs-based cleaning.
Hisham put his foot down and decided they needed to get their direction right and hired BeliBeli24 in 2019 while developing WeGÖ.
Today WeGÖ is a hyper-local super app with 4 offers:
- Services (mobile spas, mobile mechanics, homestay bookings, etc.)
Technology was the only thing he struggled with when the company relied on Google Sheets, WhatsApp, and email to work. When GrabFood and foodpanda arrived in his hometown in 2020, WeGÖ was technologically superior.
Fortunately, Hisham said they raised more than enough funding across the MCO to develop their own platform to stay competitive.
“We have just completed much of the platform and are testing the deliveries, email messages, and the marketplace live. The service area will be published later. We plan to finalize everything before July 2021. “
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The 5 entrepreneurs will each receive start-up capital of 6,000 RM (3,000 RM from Shell with a further 3,000 RM from Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Sarawak) as well as mentoring and coaching support from Shell LiveWIRE moderators for the next 9 months.
Editor’s update: The information in the above paragraph has been edited to ensure that the information is correct.
The program identifies entrepreneurs with the potential to innovate and meet real business needs that are in line with today’s socio-economic needs. Since the start of the Sarawakian Edition in 2016, a total of 356 participants have taken part and awarded 20 entrepreneurs with startup grants.
I wish this year’s winners all the best on their trip to bring Sarawak’s stories and products to light, and I will definitely keep an eye on next year’s local entrepreneurs as well.
- More information about Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE can be found here.
Selected image source: Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE 2020