KOTA KINABALU: Sometime in March last year, Faezrah Rizalman saw an Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) app challenge advertisement for a software development competition to strengthen women entrepreneurs' role in the economy.
The Keningau-born coder partnered up with her friend Jeanette Goon for the contest as the theme – women in the economy – was close to their hearts.
"Faezrah and I were both starting out new businesses and the issues that the challenge addressed was something that we could identify with.
"We developed the idea at the challenge in May last year and started working on executing it in July," said Goon, 32, an experienced e-commerce developer hailing from Kuala Lumpur.
Fast forward to today, the duo has a digital platform up and running called Bayu Harvest, which highlights products directly sourced from farmers in Sabah, such as plum sauce with black pepper, and pepper range like ground pepper and white pepper powder.
While their app did not win the challenge, which saw teams of 22 software developers from across Asia Pacific competing, Goon and Faezrah were awarded the Apec Digital Prosperity Award 2019 during an event in Langkawi late last year, an award that recognise initiatives that have most potential to broaden prosperity and inclusive growth in Asia Pacific.
"For now, these products are out of stock but eventually we will have a pre-order button. Still in development are fermented raw cacao products and use of tuhau (local spicy ginger) as an ingredient in other products being developed.
"Unlike the global Fairtrade concept which is supporting businesses that treat their workers right, what we wanted to do with Bayu Harvest is create opportunities for farmers to go from just producers to business owners," explained Goon.
She said while there are intentions to ship globally, right now they are focusing within Malaysia first as they wanted to get the right certifications, including Halal, and comply with local exports laws.
"At the moment, we are working with the farmers to develop more informative packaging before we start with all the certifications.
"We started workshops with Keningau farmers last year and we will continue the focus on Keningau and neighbouring Pensiangan areas this year, we feel it is better to focus on one community before expanding and we have only been running for a few months.
"So far we have spoken to about 40-50 farmers ... but when it comes to signing up farmers onto our platform, it's all about how motivated they are to go from just producing and selling to the highest bidder, to becoming a business owner.
"We are still working out the best processes for logistics. For now, we are handling the shipping for them," added Goon.
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