Hopes Malaysia’s Long-running Womenpreneur Program has Empowered Women in Kota Belud with the Skills and Knowledge to Thrive Financially
KOTA BELUD, Sabah, June 26, 2023 – Hopes Malaysia is a local Sabah civil society organization (CSO) that focuses on sustainable community development projects to meet the basic needs of the underprivileged rural Sabah community. Since January 2022, Hopes Malaysia’s Gerai Tamu Kita, a produce stall located at the intersection of Kampung Ratau, has been assisting rural Kota Belud families in earning additional and sustainable income. The Gerai Tamu Kita stall not only focuses on selling fresh vegetables but also homemade goods and food (especially traditional dishes) made fresh daily by Hopes Malaysia’s project farmers. Gerai Tamu Kita is primarily managed by a group of hardworking and dedicated womenpreneurs; project farmers who are additionally empowered with business skills. The stall has improved the livelihoods of numerous rural families, especially one hardworking womenpreneur who needs to be highlighted – Elinah Pitah.
Puan Elinah’s Remarkable Journey to Womenpreneurship
Puan Elinah, the dedicated leader of Hopes Malaysia’s Gerai Tamu Kita, faced many livelihood challenges prior to joining Hopes Malaysia’s initiatives. Relying solely on the inconsistent profits from rubber tapping, she encountered the instability of rubber prices, making it difficult to support her family’s needs. With a monthly income of less than RM 500, her earnings were uncertain due to price fluctuations and unpredictable weather conditions affecting rubber tapping.
Puan Elinah has been a part of both Hopes Malaysia’s long-running Womenpreneurship Program and Sustainable Farming Project as a beneficiary since 2020, allowing her to acquire more farming and business skills and knowledge. “I received assistance in the form of farming supplies. After that, I began growing vegetables not only for my own family’s needs but also to sell to friends, neighbours and at Gerai Tamu Kita. My family’s income is no longer dependent on just rubber tapping.” There have been big changes in Puan Elinah’s life compared to before. She now knows how to manage a business, increasing her income to more than RM 1000 to better support her children’s school expenses.
As a committee member of Gerai Tamu Kita, Puan Elinah initially faced challenges when the stall had just opened, such as limited customers and knowledge in writing and calculations among committee members. However, Puan Elinah overcame these challenges by using social media, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, to promote their sales at the stall and by holding a monthly meeting to teach committee members to organize the delivery and sales record. Puan Elinah sees every obstacle as a valuable learning opportunity to learn and gain new experiences. She works together with the other women, and expresses gratitude for the stall being a platform to empower women from the underserved district.
Empowering Women through Hopes Malaysia’s Womenpreneurship Program
Hopes Malaysia has helped farmers in achieving food security and improving their socioeconomics through sustainable farming and selling their harvests. Successful farmers are now able to produce sufficient food for their families and sell it to local communities, thus uplifting the socioeconomic status of many rural Kota Belud families and women. The stall serves as a platform for farmers to market their produce and specially made products – highlighting their creativity and local culture, This includes items such as vegetables, fruits and locally renowned delicacies. “The presence of the stall has greatly benefited village mothers. Once their goods are delivered to the stall, they no longer have to travel long distances to sell at the Kota Belud or Taginambur town markets.” expressed Elinah.
Inspiring More Women to Sustainable Empowerment
Puan Elinah shares the success stories of her friends, Puan Siti and Puan Doimah, who are also committee members of Gerai Tamu Kita. Despite initial challenges in farming, Puan Siti found success in fruit cultivation and selling her produce at the stall regularly, including her popular blended chillies, which is a best-selling item. On the other hand, Puan Doimah is a highly successful farmer who consistently organizes her planting and harvesting process, contributing to the stall’s regular fresh vegetable supply – with daily goods often selling out before noon.
Puan Elinah’s experience in managing Gerai Tamu Kita has contributed to the success of the stall to the point where it can still generate at least RM 5,000 in sales for farmers per month, with excess produce donated as fresh food aid to rural families in need. As a result of the success of Gerai Tamu Kita, many more villagers are interested in joining Hopes Malaysia’s Sustainable Farming Program, which has already impacted over 400 families with long-term food security. Puan Elinah believes that the success of Gerai Tamu Kita has and will continue to inspire nearby women and farmers to sustainably cultivate their empty land into farms for the lasting benefits of self-sufficiency.
Aligned with the United Nations’ SDGs in this Decade of Action, Hopes Malaysia aims to sustainably empower more rural Sabah women and their families with greater food security and socioeconomics. The CSO greatly needs your support and donations at www.hopesmalaysia.com/supportruralfamilies to continue helping villagers in need. For more details on Hopes Malaysia’s sustainable charity projects and CSR partnerships, kindly email [email protected] or contact +60162417838. Sustainably fulfilling the basic needs of Sabah’s rural community.