For Mazzaton Miza Wahab, a mother of two who lost her job at a telecommunications company during the movement control order, perseverance is what one needs most in order to succeed.
“Tabah hati (resilience) and tenacity are qualities that we need to have within us. We must always be strong in spirit and not give up easily,” says the 42-year-old from Puchong, Selangor.
“In everything that we do, we need to have confidence and determination to see it through. Don’t do things halfway or halfheartedly, because if we don’t do it until completion, we won’t know the true results. So always finish what you start,” she says.
Despite losing her job, Mazzaton was determined to look for new ways to supplement her family’s income as well as support her parents, and she realised that she needed to upskill herself.
“I attended a virtual cooking class where the teacher encouraged me to start a home-based food business. With the full support and encouragement of my husband and children, I started Miz Bite’s Delight, selling packed food and sandwiches,” she says.
Subsequently, Mazzaton wanted to expand her home business and continue learning new cooking skills. She was thankful to win the third place in the Resipi Berani Maggi reality TV series, which is part of the Program Mentor Wanita Cukup Berani Maggi campaign.
“With the knowledge and experience that I gained through the programme, I launched my brand-new cooking paste brand, Secret of Paste which comprises Fried Rice, Sambal Balado, Mee Curry Nyonya and Ikan Bakar paste, in Dec 2020,” she says.
“Looking back from when I first started my home-based food business, I realise that I’ve grown so much as an individual and become more independent as I’ve had to manage my own business while looking after my children,” she adds.
Mazzaton believes that having a close-knit family is important, especially during times of distress such as the pandemic, and she credits her mother as her source of inspiration.
“My inspiration is my mum because she’s a good cook and I learnt how to cook from her. She has her own unique style and specialities in cooking. So, the food I make and my food business are all inspired by her,” she says.
“My mum’s specialty is ikan bakar (grilled fish). She uses our secret family recipe with its special blend of ingredients to marinate and stuff the fish before grilling it. So even in my food business, I’m using our secret family recipe which has been passed down through the generations,” she adds.
Mazzaton says that the programme helped her to expand her knowledge in using digital platforms to market her food products.
“I wasn’t so familiar with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter previously, so learning how to do social media marketing on these digital platforms has been really effective in helping my business to grow,” she says.
Besides participating in the programme, Mazzaton has also attended several courses that she feels will help her improve her food business.
Currently, Mazzaton feels that what she needs most is manpower to fulfill all her orders.
“I’ve been receiving many orders daily, especially after joining the programme and employing all the new marketing techniques learnt, so in order to fulfill these orders fast, I’ll need more manpower,” she says. “I want to make sure that I can deliver my products on time to all my customers.”
“My husband works so he can only help me on weekends, and my children are taking their exams so I prefer them to focus on their schooling. While it’s possible for me to do it singlehandedly, it might take longer,” she adds.
Like many other small home-based entrepreneurs, Mazzaton faced difficulties operating her business during the pandemic.
“It was difficult for me to get the raw ingredients, which were very limited during the MCO. The cost was also more expensive than before the pandemic,” she admits.
“During the MCO, I was also restricted to delivering my food products within the same district (where my home is located), and not beyond 10km,” she says. “So I couldn’t get customers from further than Puchong.”
Mazzaton says that the programme has helped her a great deal in terms of building her confidence and knowledge.
“We had three mentors who imparted their knowledge and expertise to us, and this was my first step in moving forward,” she says. “I used to be a person who was afraid to venture out to try new things, so learning from them really changed my life and broadened my mind.”
She encourages other women entrepreneurs to attend the programme if they’re keen to upskill themselves and expand their business.
“It’s important to set goals in your life. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. So work hard, be confident, and keep moving forward,” she concludes.