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Pandemic entrepreneurs return to their day jobs as Covid-19 recedes | Malaysia

Malaysia began its transition to the endemic phase on April 1, 2022 by further relaxing SOPs and easing restrictions. — Photo by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 – When Covid-19 hit the country hard, some Malaysians turned to cottage industries and home-based businesses to survive when repeated closures prevented them from carrying on with their usual work.

However, with Malaysia’s transition to Covid-19 endemicity, the reverse is increasingly the case for some of these pandemic entrepreneurs.

According to videographer and visual effects supervisor MK Wong, he and his wife started, selling homemade hummus, wraps and poke bowls online when they couldn’t work during the various motion control orders. (MCO).

At its peak, Wong said they sold up to 300 jars of their popular hummus – a dip made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and spices that’s commonly eaten in the Middle East and South America. Mediterranean – per month.

Sales slowed, however, as more sectors opened up and Malaysians ventured outside again.

“Also, hummus is a niche market. Most people who have been overseas will know how to take advantage of it, but some won’t,” Wong said. malaysian mail.

“When the MCO ended and we had to go back to our old jobs, we decided to slow down marketing because there is a lot of work to pack, market and deliver. We also tried collaborations with restaurants , but they asked us to commit to delivering such and such a kilogram per week and we were not ready to commit to it.

As such, Wong said they would maintain the business as a side hustle while they return to their day jobs.

Football coach Zurin Wayne reported a different experience with this home food business, WAYNE’S, through which he and his wife sold Western food via food delivery services.

Prior to MCO, he ran a football school with a program called Little Kickers that trained kids. But while WAYNE’S did well through word of mouth promotion, he said that was nothing compared to the clamor for him to return to training.

“The parents called me all the time. They told me how restless the children were at home and that they needed to exercise, interact in a group and especially play football.

“I (also) knew there would be more food options for people once the MCO was over, so I said there was no point in continuing mine as I felt people would come out for their food. .

“The sport came back after two years and it’s something a lot of people missed. It took a while for everyone to come back and after the paranoia subsided almost all the kids and parents were back and I also came back full time,” Wayne said when contacted.

Malaysia went through different stages of lockdowns and restrictions from 2020 to the end of 2021.

At the end of April, however, the government announced that it was lifting almost all preventive measures, except for the obligation to always wear face masks indoors outside the home.

He also canceled the negative list of businesses that cannot open during the pandemic, allowing everyone to resume operations.

When the shutdowns hit, Norliza Samingon moved her business selling Muslim clothing, prayer rugs, and arts and crafts online.

When it became clear that the masks would be in demand during the pandemic, she also expanded to offer them as well, but stopped when cheap Chinese imports flooded the market and made it difficult to compete.

Still, Norliza said her business was doing well enough that she hired single mothers and housewives to make items such as tablecloths, children’s clothing, rugs, mats, coasters and more. others.

However, with the country fully open again, she said it has become difficult to keep up with operating solely online.

“Can’t market properly on Instagram because there are a lot of fake reviews. Also, when malls opened, many stores resumed operations and bazaars also came back.

“It affected my business because even in the pre-Raya period I had low sales and told the guys that maybe we needed to look at other things to make and sell. I stopped seriously promoting anything on social media because we also lose promotions from other people. The prices are too low for us to be competitive,” she added.

“For now, we’ll do the little things like embroidery and see how it goes.”

Even some who have gone viral during lockdown are choosing to return to their old professions.

Captain Azrin Mohmad Zawawi, the pilot who rose to prominence for selling curry mee in his flight uniform after being fired, says he retired from the business to fly again, this time for Bangladesh Airlines.

Azrin said he got the job two months ago and is now back in Malaysia to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

He said he had turned the management of the business over to his brother-in-law and they were in the process of finding a more permanent location.

“Business is always good. We were at around 400 bowls a day when we went viral. Now it’s around 250 bowls a day so I want to take the next step and we are looking for land to move into.

“We want to try to make it a real restaurant, somewhere in USJ that also has good access to delivery services,” Azrin said, adding that he had to appease several customers who called in concern when they found the business closed for now.

“I always love flying and so I felt so blessed when I got the job and I couldn’t turn it down. So when they call I’ll let them know the status of our plans to move,” said Azrin said.

Not all pandemic entrepreneurs have yet returned to their old lives, however, with some like Madiana Karip saying she was not ready to return to her previous programming job despite the country gradually returning to normalcy.

DD Sews With Love owner Madiana decided to start a home-based business as she was away from her eldest son for long periods of time and during the MCO she expanded her offering to include face masks, pillowcases pillow, coasters and clothes.

“I have my own brand of ironing board covers which work well while the rest are accessories which I make when I have free time as I didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing but take care of the children,” the mother said. a 10 year old boy and a 4 year old girl

“Even though the margins are low, I feel like I can handle more and at least I have my own pocket money. I think going back to the old job would be a failure at the moment,” she said .

Malaysia began its transition to the endemic phase on April 1, 2022 by further relaxing SOPs and easing restrictions,

Almost all industries have returned to normal capacity, but wearing a face covering indoors, in public, and in e-hailing vehicles is a must; however, the use of face masks outdoors and in open areas is optional but highly recommended as face masks are capable of reducing the spread of infection.

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