A GROUP of youth volunteers aged between 18 and 21 in Penang has started Dabao Penang to support struggling hawkers amid the pandemic, especially those who are digitally disadvantaged.
The system even allows Penangites to help give a shout-out to their favourite hawkers.
Launched in June, Dabao Penang promotes local hawkers and their takeaway fare through social media.
Founder Yew Yik Khai said since the movement control order was implemented, hawkers had been receiving fewer customers with dine-in prohibited for safety reasons.
“Consumers gravitate towards home-cooked meals or order food online rather than go out for takeaways.
“Many elderly hawkers are not tech-savvy enough to get their business online and most online platforms are in English, which is another challenge for hawkers who may not be fluent in this language.
“When hawkers move their business online, delivery platforms charge high commissions, leaving hawkers with little profit.
“We created Dabao Penang to help digitally disadvantaged hawkers besides encouraging Penangites to ‘dabao’ directly or call-to-order from these hawkers, bypassing any third party delivery platforms to ensure the hawkers earn higher profits,” he said.
Even better, Penangites can chip in and help their favourite hawkers through Dabao Penang.
They can send in photos and descriptions of mouth-watering dishes, which will be displayed by Dabao Penang to help food hunters make their choices.
“While waiting for your food, take out your phone and take pictures of the stall, the menu, the location, the food and the hawkers themselves.
“Video submissions are highly encouraged as they attract more attention on social media.
“Get the hawkers’ contact numbers and operating hours too,” Yew said.
To submit, use Dabao Penang’s online submission form available in its social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.
“Dabao Penang will design and post social media posts to help hawkers gain exposure and we actively encourage our followers to support these hawkers by buying food from them directly instead of going through delivery platforms.
“To better navigate to each hawker as well as find new hawkers in our own districts, we have introduced an interactive Dabao map.
“We aim to map out as many Penang hawkers as possible to eventually make it into a Penang hawker food directory.
“The public can support Penang’s hawkers by following our page @dabaopg on Instagram and ‘Dabao Penang’ on Facebook,” Yew said.
Tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said many small-time business owners had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In this time of adversity, convenience and safety prompt consumers to order food through delivery applications.
“Many hawker stall owners, especially the elderly, are unfamiliar with technology and often lose out on business opportunities compared with restaurants or cafes that offer online services,” he pointed out.
He said initiatives like Dabao Penang help to preserve hawker food and culture, which is part of Penang’s identity.
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