Crisis can be a fruitful time


Expert opinion: Cheong (left) will be among the panellists sharing his experience as an entrepreneur in Industries Unite, while Dooran Dooran founder Yong will be sharing her experiences selling durian online.

KUALA LUMPUR: There are opportunities in times of crisis, as the saying goes. The question is, are the nation’s small and medium enterprises aware of these opportunities and ready to tap into them to drive revenue during the pandemic?

To find out, tune into the latest Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2021 #SOS: Save Our SMEs webinar, titled “Opportunities amidst the pandemic”, by registering at bit.ly/edsobalab3.

The free webinar is set to be held on Sept 23, starting at 3pm.

For Acid Yong, who is chief executive officer of Korea Wallpaper Sdn Bhd, the various movement control orders and restrictions arising from the battle against Covid-19 meant that more often than not, the company had to shutter its physical outlets, hence the heavy hit to its bottom line.

Realising the need for a viable alternative, as she still had overhead costs such as employee salaries, she quickly turned her attention to what had thus far been a hobby – durian.

Leveraging Dooran Dooran – a brand she had earlier established to one day further her dream of opening a durian-based cafe – as well as ready access to durian orchards, Yong kicked off her venture selling durian online in mid-June.

It is certainly an amazing story, since she did so in a mere 21 days from ideation to launch, to tap into the peak of the durian season.

“A group of us own durian orchards that are several decades old, which we bought last year.

“Initially, we bought them thinking we would go to the orchards to enjoy the durian fresh, as a leisurely getaway,” she shared, adding that while it was unexpected, she leveraged the existing resources she had on hand to find a solution.

That does not mean the venture did not have its share of obstacles. Among the early challenges was ensuring a consistent supply capable of meeting the high demand.

While Dooran Dooran had its own source thanks to Yong’s prior investment in durian orchards, demand would far exceed supply, especially since the brand promises only fresh fruit seed-in-pulp, with the thorny exterior removed.

She explained, “We promise our customers fresh pulp, which means that once the fruit falls off the tree, we have to open, pack and deliver it within 12 hours.”

Another issue, related to the first, was finding enough drivers through third-party platforms to ensure timely and efficient delivery of the fruits to customers who had purchased them.

Additionally, Yong said the brand faced an issue over packaging, as a customer had complained about finding a half-eaten piece of fruit in their order, after which Dooran Dooran took immediate action to rectify the matter and further implemented food safety measures.

To find out how Yong tackled the challenges in her new venture with innovative solutions and paved a new path forward despite the odds, as well as to learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs and what SME ecosystem players can do to help, register at bit.ly/edsobalab3 to attend the free webinar.

Also speaking at the webinar are Industries Unite co-founder Datuk Irwin SW Cheong, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd SME advisory and marketing vice-president Jenny Hoh, Maxis Business SME head Kevin Lee, RHB Bank Bhd SME banking head Yip How Nang, and PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd group chief executive and managing director Datuk Seri Dr Michael Tio.

SOBA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group Bhd with CGC, Maxis, PKT Logistics Group and RHB as main sponsors and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation as official trade promotion partner.

Supported by the International Trade and Industry Ministry and Bursa Malaysia, it is audited by BDO with 988 and Suria as official media partners.

For more information on SOBA 2021, call The Star Events at 012-238 0227 (Lily), 017-381 9029 (Poh Ern), 012-983 6221 (Daryl), or visit www.soba.com.my.

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