| Azaraimy HH |
THERE are times when you could never have imagined how a small aid to the needy could bring in new hope for a better future, especially when the aid empowers people to be economically independent.
Take the story of 37-year-old mother Ramah binti Basrah, who with the aid to purchase a mixer from the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) and good work discipline turned her baking talent from earning a few dollars to around $3,000 a month.
Ramah has always loved baking and earns her living from selling bakery products. The earnings are supplemental – at most she could earn around $100 or so.
Ingredients are not cheap and her basic baking utensils were stretched beyond means.
Her husband’s pension was around $300, which could hardly pay for the house rent, food and her son’s education. Since she also delivers her products, she needs to spend on a car and its fuel.
She said all she could do was cry and pray.
To make things worse, her modest equipment kept breaking down.
However, about two years ago, her situation started to look up when the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) put her under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP), where she received a business grant to buy a high-quality baking mixer.
The YEDP has helped set up 116 new micro businesses since 2008.
The programme provides a non-repayable grant to either an individual or group of two people, with an amount capped at $2,000 per individual applicant and $4,000 for two applicants to purchase relevant equipment for their respective businesses.
The YEDP gives grants to various types of startups, including beauty salons, bakeries, catering services, tailoring and embroidery, car washing services, plant nurseries, air conditioning maintenance services, food kiosks, weaving and fish mongering.
Ramah with her company, Ziefarus Bakery, is now selling her products at a number of convenience stores. The bulk of her income comes directly from customer’s orders.
She said her Facebook page was once busy with orders, but she found the response time slow for both parties, which was not very practical as baking needs a lot of time between orders.
In order to satisfy her customers, she tried to accept every order. Sometimes she would drive to Bandar to deliver her bakery products without extra fees. She eventually bought a larger oven to accommodate more orders.
She said she really enjoys and loves what she was doing and that she would do her best not to disappoint her customers.
However her conviction and dedication to her business has had an effect on her.
She works from early morning, often around 2am until her orders are done.
She is worried about her health, but she also wants to make her business work.
Her business greatly depends on her. Her income has expanded but so has her expenses.
The cost of ingredients and equipment replacement can be expensive.
In fact, she is applying for another grant to replace her equipment. She also cannot afford to hire an assistant at the moment.
Her priority now is to provide a stable home for her family. She wants to have her own house and hopes her application at Baitulmal will be considered.
The opportunities to better her livelihood keep on knocking at her door. She also told the Bulletin that she dreams to have a proper bakery.
Among her favourite products are curry puff, custard puff, bingka, agar (jelly), chicken pie, tart telor, cocktail pudding, fruit tart, buttermilk biscuit and marble cake.