Kak J: Small Business, Big Dreams

Sometimes I ask myself, “Wouldn’t it be great to one day own a [store] of my own?”

Jariah Pajri, or Kak J as known by her neighbours, has even named her store ‘My Impian’, or ‘My Dream’. In a way, it symbolises her hope for this venture of hers, which she genuinely hopes to see become a reality. Leaving her job as a secretary to take care of her two children, Kak J now operates a small printing kiosk at her flat, providing services such as photo printing, scanning, and binding. While she works hard, each day balancing between her business and family, money was tight. In 2017, Kak J became one of 20 beneficiaries in PPR Sungai Bonus, where we provided entrepreneurship trainings with our partner, Yayasan Sejahtera. With new knowledge and skills in business plan writing, marketing, financial management, and more, we were happy to hear all our beneficiaries increased their monthly income by at least 30%. “At 46, my ability to absorb new information starts to lag, and it’s difficult to catch up after missing out on school for such a long time. I never knew that it was wrong to mix up finances between my personal bank account and my business bank account,” Kak J shared with us. She especially found the online marketing workshops to be of great use.

“I can see a lot of improvement in our lives since running these kiosks, and I believe a lot can be done for other areas to alleviate poverty.”

“Unlike food businesses, people do not need my services every day. So, I need to widen my reach and the only way to do so was by promoting my services online. The training taught me to use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to publicise my services and it was a hit…I even get customers from surrounding residential areas.” The entrepreneurship trainings offered form part of Yayasan Sejahtera and Hasanah’s community-based approach to alleviating poverty. With hopes to improve residents’ lives for the long-term, the approach sees us first understanding the people and studying their specific needs. It took us about one year to create a profile of PPR Sungai Bonus’ residents and build trust with them. Moving to the second stage, we invite our partners with their varied expertise to conduct their programmes, be it on education, entrepreneurship, or mental health awareness. The final stage is where we train the community’s own leaders, so that when we leave at the end of the fifth year, the community can sustain itself. As we have seen, there is much talent to be found in low-income communities, and with the right resources, there’s no telling how far they can take their businesses. “I hope more effort is made to tap into the talents of the housewives to help their husbands increase their household income and in turn, ease their financial constraints. I can see a lot of improvement in our lives since running these kiosks, and I believe a lot can be done for other areas to alleviate poverty,” Kak J said. That’s exactly what we set out to do. Following the successes we have seen in PPR Sungai Bonus, we will be reaching out to more low-income communities in the years ahead. Our hope? To see people like Kak J gain financial independence and uplift their quality of life, not just for themselves, but for their families.