Tech lifeline for family business legacies

#TechUntukSemua offers reprieve for local family businesses in face of the pandemic to carry their legacies into the next generation.

WITH the pandemic raging throughout the world, the impact is greatly felt in all sectors of the economy, and smaller and traditional businesses on the local front were particularly hit hard during this time.

Even with resumption of economic activities, many are still in the process of rebuilding their business and recouping losses sustained during the MCO.

Until this unprecedented pandemic happened, many of us as consumers have also taken for granted convenient access to goods and services.

One valuable lesson all of us have learned from this is to embrace and make use of available technology to ensure daily business can go on.

In the face of the pandemic, many businesses are looking for further opportunities to sustain operations – one way is by digitalising and embracing the digital economy, opening up an extended consumer base. This effectively means gaining another avenue for income.

For some, digitalising has proven to be a viable way of continuing a legacy that has been passed through generations.

Rising to the occasion, Grab has launched its #TechUntukSemua initiative to connect businesses to the rakyat. This is part of Grab’s commitment to get small business owners to embrace technology to sustain themselves.

This initiative has proved to be a godsend for 62-year-old Shahjahan Asan Aliar, a fishmonger in Penang’s famous Chowrasta Market. In continuation of a family legacy, Shajahan’s father, who hailed from a fishing village in India learnt the trade from the village fishermen, which he then passed on to Shahjahan when he was just 10 years old.

To adapt to the times, Shahjahan is now using GrabMart to sell his goods.

“During the first MCO, our sales dropped by 50% and we needed to find a way to help ourselves, and with Grab we could do that.

“Not many fishmongers think they will benefit from using technology in their business. This could be because they’re not literate, or lack the confidence. But you have to keep up with the times, or lose out, ” said Shahjahan.

On his experience with GrabMart, he said: “Learning to use the app wasn’t difficult. We now supply the whole of Penang, and satisfy more people with good quality fish. That is the secret to a successful business – happy consumers.”

His experience is evidence of how embracing technology to adapt and move with the times can grant businesses a second lease of life, especially when times become too uncertain to sustain the traditional way of doing business.

We also take for granted access to food and our favourite restaurants, which was severely limited during both MCO periods.

Mum’s Place was opened back in 2001 as a way to honour the owners' mothers and their recipes. In essence, it keeps their traditions alive and offers the chance for many others to share and experience the homecooked pleasure many living on their own miss today.

To continue serving its patrons, the proprietor of Mum’ Place, 62-year-old Christopher de Mello ensured consumers can still enjoy the delicious homecooked food his restaurant serves up with GrabFood.

“When March 18,2020 hit, we closed for five weeks. So despite my early reservations about using a delivery service, we had to, ” he said.

“I observed other restaurants and wondered why they would compromise the experience of enjoying their food freshly cooked. But a closer look at our menu and a few small tweaks, and our food was now delivery-friendly. It didn't strike us earlier to use a delivery service because we always felt dine-in is still the best.”

Having made the move, de Mello has no regrets. “I’m an old timer so understanding how to use the app in the beginning was a little tough, but with some help, I got the hang of it. Business has picked up, and we see the benefits of dine-in and delivery.”

Such initiatives have greatly helped local businesses sustain during the MCO. However, the onus is on business owners and proprietors to take the first step.

Apart from this, past initiatives to support traditional businesses digitalise include ‘Food Courts by GrabFood’ and ‘Pasar by GrabMart’.

In addition, Grab also recently announced the GrabForGood Fund to support programmes with a lasting impact on the quality of life for its partners and the broader community in Southeast Asia.

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