Small business owners receive help to thrive

(Top row, centre) Susheela conducting online training sessions for the women entreprenuers.

NINE women entrepreneurs, whose businesses were impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, are getting help for their businesses to thrive.

They are shortlisted for a programme that helps women in small businesses that is run by Tech Outreach Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to improve the lives of marginalised and disadvantaged communities.

Its projects head Susheela Sabaratnam said the programme called “Revive: Empowering Women in Business” started in March and aimed at empowering women to be resilient post pandemic.

The eight-month programme is funded by Global Giving, a non-profit organisation based in the United States that provides crowdfunding platforms for grassroot charitable projects.

She said the module included networking sessions and coaching by successful women in business to train participants on ways to overcome operational challenges.

“There are also classes for them to learn fundamentals of a successful start-up, including finance and marketing matters.Maizatul took up culinary courses to learn from the industry experts.Maizatul took up culinary courses to learn from the industry experts.

“By the end of the programme, we hope the participants realise their potential, and have the confidence to move along in their businesses.

“We are also training them to be resourceful in improving their business practices, set goals and use tools to track results, and learn to adapt to meet market opportunities,” she said.

One of the participants was single mother-of-two Maizatul Faduwa Simah Sharom, 45, from Sepang, Selangor.

The former tourist guide lost her job during the pandemic and took her passion for cooking and baking and transformed it into a business to support her family.

Maizatul said she also signed up for culinary courses to improve her skills.

“However, skills alone are not enough as I also need to know how to run my business. That is why I signed up for this programme.

“The programme has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, and to cater for the needs of my target market,” she said.

Another beneficiary of the programme was KR Rathiga, 60, from Kulim, Kedah.

The former human resources manager left the corporate world in 2016 to pursue her Masters degree in counselling but due to poor demand for counsellors, she has been working as a real estate negotiator since 2018.

Rathiga started selling ayurvedic products in 2020 but sales halted when the pandemic started.

“Businesses were going digital and so I knew that I needed e-commerce knowledge.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to learn that through this programme,” she said.

Another participant Jazlynnd Wong Yin Thing, 38, from Klang said she enrolled to explore ways she could improve her business.

In 2019, Wong co-founded Zero Waste Earth Store in Shah Alam that provides zero-waste grocery alternatives.

“When the pandemic started, walk-ins became fewer and we had to focus on digitisation.

“I enrolled in this programme to learn about branding and setting targets to grow the business,” she said

Mother-of-two Usha Nair, 52, from Kluang, Johor, who suffers from severe scoliosis, co-founded a business making fashionable, easy-to-wear clothes for the disabled called Dawn Adaptive in 2020.

Since being diagnosed with scoliosis in her 40s, Usha said she had great difficulty in dressing her daughter who has cerebral palsy.

Usha said the situation opened her eyes to how dressing the disabled was a daily challenge.

“My daughter cannot fasten a button and has difficulty putting on clothes so she resorts to wearing, loose, oversized ones.

“Clothing matters to everybody and there is a need for fashionable clothes that are easy to wear.

“So, I co-founded this enterprise in 2020 with a mission to create fashion-forward products that empower people with disabilities and facilitate inclusivity,” she said.

“I am here to learn how I can expand my business to reach the target market.”

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