Having learnt to make traditional Kuih Sapit from her mother when she was a child, Zaiton binti Haji Hassim, aged 38, is the third generation to take over her family’s business established over 30 years ago.
For over 20 years, she helped her mother make Kuih Sapit, especially during the school holidays and now, still makes them with help from her siblings, nephews and nieces.
After obtaining her degree from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in 2009 and while waiting for a job, she planned to help her mother temporarily. This ended up by Zaiton taking over the business – something she had not expected.
“I didn’t have a business background, and I did not take any business courses during my studies. Since I am the youngest, my mother placed complete trust in me to take over. My brothers are also helping to expand the family business – mostly home-based,” she said.
Having difficulties in finding a job, Zaiton focussed on making and selling Kuih Sapit as a source of income and to further expand the business named Syarikat Seri Penambang.
Speaking on the demand for Kuih Sapit, Zaiton receives large numbers of orders every day, especially if there is a special occasion or celebration such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“Every special occasion is hectic for us. We always receive orders of over 500 tins (steel tins storage) a few weeks before the occasion and have to make Kuih Sapit every day,” she said.
The recipe for Kuih Sapit was obtained from her family’s earlier generations and were altered by her mother, giving the traditional delicacy a unique taste that sets it apart from other Kuih Sapit.
Zaiton explained that some of the ingredients such as old coconuts are hard to find depending on the season, and the prices of some ingredients are increasing. “There is no doubt that the prices of the ingredients are rising, and this is one of the challenges, but Alhamdulillah, we have managed to succeed,” she added.
As a home-based business, Zaiton said she is not only focussed on making Kuih Sapit but also other traditional Kuih such as Meruku and Kuih Jala, as well as other items including Vico Cake, Kuih Mor and honey cornflake biscuits.
Imparting some advice, she said the young generation should take any opportunity given, not waste time waiting for a job and start a business, even if it is small or online-based.
The fourth generation of the family, her brother’s son, Mohd Nur Adli Afnan, 23, is also making and selling Kuih Sapit. He learnt it when helping his grandmother (Zaiton’s mother) during school holidays.
Knowing the ingredients from his grandmother, he started the business in 2018 with his parents’ assistance, who also help him.
After completing his diploma, he focussed on the business and utilised the knowledge and skills from his grandmother to generate income like his aunt, Zaiton, and at the same time, expand the business.
Sharing his experience, Md Nur Adli said he sometimes stayed at his grandmother’s house for several days to help her make Kuih Sapit. From there, he learnt the techniques and skills on making the traditional delicacy perfectly.
“Finding a job now is not easy,” he said.
“So I set my mind to join the business because Kuih Sapit is still in high demand in our community, and it has been for years,” he said.
Md Nur Adli highlighted that there is nothing to be ashamed in doing business, especially selling the traditional Kuih Sapit, and it helps generate income. He added that hard work is needed to be successful.