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B40 traders’ income soars since signing up for govt initiative
Published on: Wednesday, April 24, 2024
By: FMT, Tan Chin Tung
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B40 traders’ income soars since signing up for govt initiative
Students wait in line to purchase a snack or meal from Wan Asikin Wan Hassan’s vending machine. (Wan Asikin Wan Hassan pic)
PETALING JAYA: An unassuming vending machine stands in a corner of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Kelantan, with a long line of students patiently waiting to purchase their meals.

As unremarkable as it may seem, the vending machine – stocked with a variety of food costing less than RM10 – has transformed the life of a B40 family.

Wan Asikin Wan Hassan, who signed up for the People’s Income Initiative (IPR), cooks and restocks the meals sold in the vending machine three times a day, seven days a week.

“The sales from the vending machine have contributed to the increase in our family’s income, which means I can buy my children what they need for school.

“I don’t feel financially burdened anymore because we know there will be money coming in,” Wan Asikin, the wife of a bus driver, told FMT.

The 42-year-old mother-of-four said she was taking in between RM13,000 and RM21,000 a month, depending on whether the students were on break.

After deducting the cost of raw materials, Wan Asikin said she was making a profit of at least RM5,000 a month, a princely sum compared to the RM500 a month she used to earn from selling kuih.

“After joining IPR, I focused on preparing food for the vending machine and nothing else. I can’t make time for any other side hustles, due to the overwhelming demand from the students,” she said.

The housewife also said she was extremely thankful to her village head, who encouraged her to join the programme last October and make a living at home while taking care of her four children.

IPR is a short and medium-term intervention measure that the government created to eradicate hardcore poverty.

It currently offers three pilot initiatives: the farming entrepreneur (Intan), the food entrepreneur (Insan) and the services operator (Ikhsan).

The programme has benefited 4,100 households as of November 2023, according to economy minister Rafizi Ramli.

High demand

Wan Asikin and another IPR participant Amin Afifi, who supplies food to an IPR vending machine in UiTM Penang, said they spend thousands of ringgit on raw ingredients each month.

“There are around 10 to 15 types of food in the vending machine at any given time, including sandwiches, chicken chop, nasi lemak and cakes.

“We have to change our menu now and then, so the students won’t get bored,” Amin said, adding that he provides about 60% of the food displayed behind the glass, while the rest is produced by other vendors.

The 36-year-old father of two said he was sceptical about the initiative when he joined last September, and wondered whether the demand from the vending machine would surpass the online bakery he ran full-time with his wife.

“During the first month, we were just aiming to supply food to the vending machine on a part-time basis, but we saw how fast the business grew and went full-time soon after.”

Amin, who had a few other business ventures in the past that were less fruitful, said he had no worries about providing for his family anymore – now that his monthly profits had increased fivefold to an average of RM5,000.

However, he said he would need to supply food to another vending machine for his family to live comfortably. He hoped the government would be able to help young entrepreneurs like him who would like to venture further into the food and beverage industry.

“For me, the Insan initiative may be more for beginners who are looking to have a stable income and save up.

“After this, I hope the IPR will offer more guidance to those who would like to expand their business and maybe open a restaurant,” he said.

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