How this PWD boosted her earnings fourfold after participating in R.I.S.E

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How this PWD boosted her earnings fourfold after participating in R.I.S.E

“Don’t compare yourself to others; compare yourself to who you were yesterday.” This quote perfectly expresses my thinking.

My unfortunate incident, the accident

My name is Hariah binti Mohamad, from Simpang Renggam, Johor. Life is not always rosy and smooth. While I try not to compare myself to others, I suffered from low self-esteem. I am a single mother of seven children and a homemaker who met with an accident in 2015. The accident happened when I was driving to my workplace, the pioneer factory in Tanjung Agas, Muar, around 6:30am.

Apart from the permanent disability, the disability made me have a series of self-deprecating thoughts, and worst of all, I felt that I was unworthy. It never occurred to me that one day I could be financially independent, let alone contribute to my family.

I was at my lowest point in life, crying every day as I tried to regain my strength. The journey was extremely difficult. With my permanent disability, I had to relearn my daily routines.

It was like you were a newborn trying to figure things out on your own. I had to learn to cook on my own while in my wheelchair. I have to take care of myself from the time I open my eyes until I lay down in my bed to sleep without help.

After the accident, my medical bills compounded my family’s financial burdens. With guilt and pain, I decided to step up and carry the burden of my family. I was upfront about my circumstances but didn’t have high expectations. My only hope is that I can make ends meet. Even when I started selling ice cream and drinks on the street, I was in a state of emotional turmoil.

Due to my lack of confidence, it was extremely difficult to contact new clients. As a result, my income was primarily dependent on passers-by, which was limited. Since it can be expensive to keep drinks and ice cream cold in this tropical country, my business did not generate a stable and sustainable income.

In fact, there were times when I couldn’t tell how much I had earned because there were no records of transactions. When it came to running my business, I mostly followed my ear.

The turning point, a learning opportunity

My livelihood then consisted of living from hand to mouth. This continued until a year later, while I was going about my daily routine, I received a call from an unknown number and it was from a grassroots coordinator inviting me to join the Maybank Foundations Reach Independence & Sustainable Entrepreneurship (RISE) Program.

Also read: Underserved, not undeserved: Empowering women micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia

This program is a collaboration between Maybank Group’s Corporate Responsibility Arm, Maybank Foundation, and social enterprise People System consulting (PSC). Since it was a sponsored opportunity aimed at empowering the PWD community to produce tangible, measurable and sustainable results, I decided to give myself a chance to learn new skills.

This was the turning point of my business and the end of my downfall. The awareness and change module highlighted the cause of my failed business, a lack of true purpose. As I became more aware of my business goals, I gradually regained my confidence and the ability to identify problems and make effective changes in my business.

Promotion within social media and financial management

One of the most important skills I have learned is using social media for advertising. The instructors have guided me through the process of creating and implementing social media to promote my business over the years.

I was fascinated by the power of social media when they introduced me to the sales strategy module. I had no doubt that I knew very little about the digital world, but I was eager to learn. Thanks to the step-by-step digital education, I can now advertise my services and products on Facebook. After that, I closed a few deals with suppliers, and now I deliver my products to several food stalls in Segamat.

I also actively interact with my customers on Facebook and Whatsapp. When my business is open and running, I regularly post pictures of my products on my social media page and have my company banner hanging in front of the kiosk to attract more customers. Among all the platforms and methods I have tried to promote my business, I have discovered that Facebook is one of the most effective ways to market my products.

Instead of aimlessly waiting for customers all day, I used my Customer Analysis module knowledge and skills. An interesting method I learned is the Hot Button method, which made me know who my customers are.

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I can now identify the right potential customers and contact them with confidence. My target demographic includes children and teenagers aged seven to 25. My kiosk is conveniently located close to the beach to attract visitors of that age. In addition, I have added new flavors to appeal to the younger generation.

Not to mention, the financial management degree has taught me the value of keeping my account organized. I’ve started budgeting and tracking my expenses since then. As a result, I was able to save enough money to buy a new generator for my business and pay the toll.

This was a defining moment for my business. After six months, I can confidently say that I have gradually regained my confidence, learned to identify problems and have the ability to improve my business. This extensive transformation has enabled me to earn RM2500 per month, four times the original income I would never have dreamed of.

The art of letting go of the past and striving for the future

Right now I am relieved that I can contribute stably to my household income. I hope my savings will be enough to help my children go to college in the future. Furthermore, I am also proud to say that I can afford to send my children to tuition classes.

My current goal is to open a homemade ice cream shop and experiment with new recipes like my own crispy fried bananas. Although there is no such thing as happily ever after in life, I am happy with how everything is going.

I would highly recommend the RISE program to other people with disabilities. I don’t want to keep this success a secret to myself; instead, I will share it with anyone who needs it. I hope that all disabled people will have the opportunity to participate in this program and change their lives for the better once and for all.

Remember that you are not alone. Many disabled people, myself included, have accepted their fate and stepped outside their comfort zone, and so can you.

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