CULTIVATING RESILIENCE AMONG MICRO-ENTREPRENEURS


A testament to hard work and entrepreneurial spirit: Roslina and her husband Rosmadi Hassan proudly displaying the diverse types of murukku they now produce and sell.

THE debate of giving someone a hand up instead of a handout is not something new.

In recent years, news of kindness through mere monetary donations is often met with scepticism — questions linger over whether the financial aid truly reaches its intended beneficiaries.

Giving someone a hand up implies a more involved, tailored and sustainable solution for those on the receiving end of help.

Such is the case at Yayasan UEM (YUEM) where its collaboration with partners including the Institute of Poverty Research and Management (InSpeK) of Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, aims to enact change that resonates on a deeper and more impactful level.

The strategic partnership between YUEM and InSpeK further established its Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YUEM-EDP) in 2020.

It has since become a catalyst for change, propelling 59 underprivileged micro-entrepreneurs including 29 persons with disabilities (PwD) to break free from the grip of poverty and move towards self-sufficiency and dignity.

Through this powerful alliance, the foundation offers necessary funding and platform while InSpeK brings valuable research insights on poverty and actionable strategies to uplift these businesses and provide effective aid.

A programme to gain new skills

The YUEM-EDP is a comprehensive two-year journey, meticulously designed to empower participants with an arsenal of skills in business accounting, operation management, branding and marketing.

The knowledge and skills gained through the programme enable these entrepreneurs to approach their ventures with a new level of sophistication and confidence that was previously out of reach.

Upon completion of their training at InSpeK, participants are furnished with in-kind business capital assistance in the form of tools and machinery crucial for expanding their business endeavours by YUEM.

This strategic approach ensures that the aid provided is transformative and conducive to long-term business growth—a testament of the foundation’s and its partners’ commitment in ensuring the success of their participants, even after the programme’s conclusion.

The progress of these entrepreneurs is monitored for up to a year post-completion; they are offered continued advice and are introduced to entrepreneurship incentives and assistance by various agencies, such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).

Turning the axle to better days

The programme’s transformative effect is exemplified by Roslina Mat Yusof, who is physically-disabled and has hearing impairment.

The 47-year-old mother of two from Pasir Mas, Kelantan has been making murukku at home since 2010, with only a hand-cranked press and a wok on an open flame to supplement the family’s income.

The setup severely limited the amount she could produce and was labour-intensive, resulting in a meagre income of RM600 monthly prior to joining the YUEM-EDP.

Post-training and with YUEM’s assistance, she acquired an electric heavy-duty mixer and hydraulic murukku machine cum wok setup that resulted in an increase in output, as she now works with a 5kg dough as compared to 2kg previously.

By learning to market her products on social media at the training, Roslina is now active on Facebook and sees an increase in followers.

Her earnings have since skyrocketed to RM2,000 per month, allowing her to be able to renovate her house for her family to comfortably live in.

She has since diversified her product offerings to laksa, rempeyek, keropok lekor, and mini curry puffs, and aspires to expand her business while providing job opportunities to the underprivileged.

She advises fellow entrepreneurs with disabilities to: “Believe in yourself and take proactive steps to work towards your goals and dreams.

“With hard work, anything is possible,” says Roslina, adding that she hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams with determination and resilience.

She also hopes her story will show that hard work and the right support can transform challenges into opportunities, build successful enterprises, and uplift their communities.

Her journey stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and the potential for every individual to achieve success.

Overcoming roadblocks with resilience and skill: Wan Saidi diligently repairs a car at his workshop in Kota Baru. His business has been growing since the training and capital assistance.Overcoming roadblocks with resilience and skill: Wan Saidi diligently repairs a car at his workshop in Kota Baru. His business has been growing since the training and capital assistance.

Mastering the ride of resilience

Similarly, Wan Saidi Wan Salleh’s story is one of indomitable spirit.

Despite living with cerebral palsy, he became a trained mechanic in Kuala Lumpur before returning to Kota Baru to establish a workshop.

It has been a challenging ride for him since starting his business 18 years ago as customers displayed a lack of trust towards him because of his disability.

He has also been exploited out of rightful payment due to that.

YUEM-EDP’s capital assistance facilitated his acquisition of a long-coveted SATA Drawer Tool Trolley, which was previously too costly for him.

InSpeK training has also taught him to be more financially savvy, while the university helped market his services so more customers can support him.

The impact? His monthly revenue has been on an upward trend, doubling from RM2,000 pre-Covid to RM4,000, even recording an impressive RM6,000 one month.

He now has a dedicated team of four mechanics and sees up to 50 vehicles for repairs each month.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in this programme. It has helped me increase my income source,” shares Wan Saidi.

An inclusive future

The collaboration between YUEM and InSpeK has fostered an entrepreneurship ecosystem where those like Roslina and Wan Saidi not only flourished but became stewards of hope and resilience within their communities.

This initiative is a testament to the idea that meaningful support can ignite a cascade of positive changes, witnessing dreams turn into sustainable businesses and allowing the disabled to have a dignified livelihood.

With the success of the programme’s first two groups of 16 and 14 participants, respectively, this year, YUEM-EDP is training 29 participants so more can benefit from it, as well as the capital assistance.

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan senior associate researcher and project lead at InSpeK, Dr Tengku Fauzan Tengku Anuar recalls Roslina’s and Wan Saidi’s strong determination when they were undergoing the programme.

Dr Tengku Fauzan shares that the participants’ unending positive attitude and creativity in generating future business ideas are remarkable and inspiring qualities.Dr Tengku Fauzan shares that the participants’ unending positive attitude and creativity in generating future business ideas are remarkable and inspiring qualities.

She also observed the unending positive attitude and remarkable creativity of the participants, despite encountering many hardships along the way, in working towards the betterment of their livelihoods.

“It is inspiring to see such an unrelenting fighting spirit in the participants.

“Their strong desire to succeed is evident in their willingness to travel to the university from all across Kelantan to attend all lessons diligently,” shares Dr Tengku Fauzan

According to UEM Group managing director and member of YUEM’s board of trustees Datuk Mohd Izani Ghani, Roslina’s and Wan Saidi’s journeys reflect the programme’s core mission: “Every individual has a unique story, a dream waiting to be realised and at YUEM, our aim is to ignite hope and realise dreams.

“YUEM-EDP is crafted and implemented to ensure each entrepreneur not only succeeds in business but flourishes in life, breaking free from the shackles of poverty and hardships they have endured.”

With the future iterations of the programme, new seeds of hope, resilience and empowerment, will be sowed, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

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