When Mas Lizawaty Muslan got divorced eight years ago, she had to figure out a way to earn an income to take care of her five kids.
She then decided to provide transportation services for schoolchildren. Unfortunately, the pandemic and school closures last year left her in the lurch and without a main source of livelihood.
“I knew I had to quickly find another way to sustain my family. I noticed that many people were scared to go out of the house to get groceries and necessities, so I used up the last of my savings to start a small business providing fresh chicken to the nearby community,” shared Mas, 38, from Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.
However, as time passed, her daily sales became stagnant and she was barely making ends meet.
“I had no idea how to promote my business or stand out from the growing number of competitors in the neighbourhood. My lack of knowledge on how to run a business also contributed to my lack of confidence in growing my business. I knew I had to expand it to earn a higher income, but I didn’t know how to do that,” she recalled.
Her friend then told her about a programme run by People Systems Consultancy that helps equip marginalised communities with entrepreneurial skills.
After joining the programme, Mas was able to expand her business from two stalls to seven stalls: Six supply fresh chicken while one sells chicken rice.Through the programme, Mas has become more aware of her spending and savings. Photo: People Systems Consultancy
“One of the most important things I learnt from the programme was how to identify big customers. I started targeting F&B business owners to supply chicken to their restaurants.
“Using the sales strategies taught in the programme, I managed to secure huge orders from different restaurants nearby, which significantly increased my sales and income,” said Mas.
“The chicken rice stall is also next to my fresh chicken stall. This has created convenience for my customers as they can get their grocery needs and food all in one place,” said Mas, adding that people were still worried about being out and about too much due to the pandemic.
Before joining the programme, Mas also had problems managing her finances. “It was difficult for me to manage my money and separate the spending and earning for my personal and business use.
“Before this, I only saved money when I had extra because I did not have a purpose or a specific goal for my savings.”
Through the programme, Mas has become more aware of her spending and savings.
“I’ve started proper savings accounts for specific purposes, such as my children’s education, and another savings account for donation and community work,” said Mas, who also makes it point to hire orphans to give them a chance to earn a living.
As the pandemic has affected the economy, she is putting her expansion plans on hold.
In the past few months, she has also been operating at 50% capacity because of the decrease in supply of fresh chickens from her supplier.
“Due to the decrease, I must limit my orders. Fortunately, the three shops that are in operation are still doing quite well in supplying to my regular customers,” said Mas, who recently teamed up with a hotel to supply personal hygiene products to Covid-19 patients during their quarantine period.
Mas can certainly give herself a big pat on her back for her success.
“One of my proudest moments was when I was able to stop receiving the RM400 monthly financial aid from Baitulmal (a government agency).
“After my business improved and I managed to earn quite a decent amount of profit, I went to Baitulmal myself and asked them to cancel my name as an aid receiver.
“I am also glad to be able to provide job opportunities to orphans by asking them to help me with the daily operations,” said Mas, whose four surviving children are aged between seven and 17.