INDIVIDUALS looking to venture into business now that the country is transitioning into the Covid-19 endemic phase can consider operating food trucks.
Johor Indian Petty Traders and Small Business Association chairman D. Ravindran said they could apply for financial aid schemes and business incentives offered by the federal and state governments to start their venture.
Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP) are also encouraging more people to join the food truck business, he said.
“The timing is right as Malaysia’s economy is on the road to recovery after two years of uncertainties due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said when contacted.
Ravindran said many food operators, especially in the Johor Baru district, ceased operations during the various movement control orders.
While some operators have wound up their business altogether, others are looking at restarting their operations, he added.
“At the same time there are also new entrants in the food and beverage business, especially youths.”
Ravindran advised newcomers to choose the food truck concept instead of opening an outlet, as it would give them flexibility in terms of business hours and they could operate at any spot designated by the local authorities.
“Generally, food truck operators can recoup their investment in the second year of operations,” he said.
Ravindran said the opening of the Malaysia-Singapore border since April 1 was expected to further bring positive impact to Johor’s economy, especially Johor Baru, by year end.
Meanwhile, Johor Baru City Businessmen and Traders Association president Roland Lim said many of its members who ceased operations during the MCO were now planning to resume business.
Most of them, he said, had run food stalls at various kopitiam in Johor Baru for many years but were forced to close down when business was badly affected by the pandemic.
“During pre-Covid-19 days, the majority of local customers who lived in Johor Baru and worked in Singapore commuted daily to work.
“They would either patronise the kopitiam around 5am for breakfast before heading to the republic or when they returned home after their night shift,” he said.
Lim said those planning to restart their business might not get back their former lots in coffee- shops which have been leased to other food operators.
“We hope MBJB can allocate these operators a place at hawker centres as most of them still have valid licence, which they renewed in 2020 and 2021 despite not operating.”
Lim said another issue the operators faced was the RM1,500 minimum wage scheme which started this year.
“Hopefully, the government can exempt them from having to pay this to their stall helpers,’’ he added.