Singapore's Golden Equator expands to Brunei

FINTECH, consultancy and fund management company Golden Equator Group on Monday announced its foray into Brunei, following the S$24.6 million strategic investment it received in April last year.

Japanese serial entrepreneur Taizo Son led the investment along with individual investors from Asia-Pacific, including Brunei, and the Middle East.

The Singapore-headquartered conglomerate is looking to establish three businesses in Brunei: its multi-family office business, Golden Equator Wealth (GEW); its consulting arm, Golden Equator Consulting (GECo); and potentially its workspace subsidiary SPECTRUM. 

GEW will focus on educating and providing ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) families and individuals in Brunei with "a more holistic approach to wealth and legacy preservation", Golden Equator said in its media statement on Monday. The expansion is also part of the group's efforts to deepen its understanding of the family office concept and its relevance for UHNWs in Asia.

From Golden Equator's conversations with Bruneian families, the group has observed an "encouraging interest" in initiatives that involve the next-generation members, said Shirley Crystal Chua, founder and group CEO. This shows that the older generations are starting to plan how to pass down the family business and wealth to their children to manage, Ms Chua added.

In the consulting business, GECo has been working with Darussalam Enterprise, Brunei's national agency for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), since 2018 to facilitate bootcamps on business skillsets for startups.

To date, GECo has completed three startup and microbusiness bootcamps in the country, and will conduct seven more over the next two years. These bootcamps have guided more than 200 startups, raised over US$1 million in investments, and provided employment to about 500 people in Brunei, Golden Equator said.

As for SPECTRUM, the subsidiary is in discussions with Brunei's government agencies to potentially set up a workspace that drives community-building and collaborations. Its aim is to grow the nation's startup ecosystem and draw more entrepreneurs from Borneo into Brunei, transforming Brunei into an entrepreneurship hub.

Launched in 2018, SPECTRUM has signed partnerships with similar workspaces in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and Korea. Besides the Brunei government agencies, Spectrium is also in talks with potential partners in Dubai and Korea to set up a presence in these countries, Golden Equator said on Monday.

To lead the expansion, Golden Equator appointed Aziemah Abdullah as the country head for Brunei last November. Prior to that, she was with Royal Brunei Technical Services, where she led the company's business development and expansion initiatives. 

Golden Equator said its entry into Brunei was also the result of its discussions with the country's government agencies.

Among other things, the group has committed to help develop services- and finance-related talents through training and employment opportunities in Brunei, create opportunities for Bruneian graduates to be more employable regionally, and to impart digital skill sets.

Golden Equator was started in 2012 by Ms Chua, an ex-Citibanker who has worked with wealth clients from Asia and Europe.