Navamalar Naggappan strongly believes in helping those in need and the best way to help, she says, is to empower them. If there is a sentence she lives, it is this: If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; but if you teach him to fish, you feed him all his life.
The Ketua Komuniti India Kampung Tungku is no stranger to good deeds. During the pandemic, Navamalar, 40, cooked meals and ran errands for Covid-19 patients who were quarantined in hospital or at home.
Since then, she has made strides to help disadvantaged people in other ways, including teaching them e-commerce or “how to sell things online.”
“With the rising cost of living, many are struggling to survive, especially those who are not well off. So my goal is to teach them about digital marketing as a way to earn an income,” says the single mother of a son.
Navamalar recently organized a digital marketing workshop for this purpose.
“We have to evolve with the times. Many people have turned to online platforms for shopping during the pandemic and even after the lifting of the MCO, this trend has continued as it is convenient and easier,” she says.
Navamalar says they use Shopee for this exercise because it’s a very user-friendly platform. However, there are also other online portals that participants can explore.
Recently, about 50 people from Sungai Way community as well as other areas like Puchong, Bandar Sunway and Klang, attended the free workshop which was publicized through social media.
“Not all participants are from the B40 community, but we encouraged the B40 community to take this opportunity to learn something useful,” says Navamalar.
“The workshop is a step-by-step presentation of how to do digital marketing and includes a starter kit – which includes a box, bubble wrap and other materials they can use for their online business,” she says.
“I will research what I can sell. Maybe it’s beauty products since I’m currently doing facials for people,” says the housewife-beautician whose husband works as a truck driver.
Another participant, Carol Kee, 38, says everything is more expensive now and you have to find ways to earn a side income to survive. Kee, who works in accounts, adds that digital marketing is a good way to do this.
“Nowadays most people buy online because it’s more convenient and can save time and transportation,” she says.
Workshop participant Janet Wilson, 40, who volunteers with Persatuan Penduduk Kota Kemuning/Seri Muda and helps low-income families, including single mothers, says the workshop will be helpful in helping people earn an income.
“It’s important knowledge for everyone, especially those who need to earn extra income to survive. And we’re here to help,” says Janet.
Bridge to the needy
Navamalar adds that the government has put in place good programs to help those most in need, but there are those who need them who do not know them.
“Our goal is to be a ‘bridge’ for these people, to give them such help,” she says. “Sometimes we also have to help them apply for these programs because they don’t know how or don’t have a device to do it,” she explains.
Kampung Tunku Adun (State Assembly Member) Lim Yi Wei, who officiated the event, shares some of the new initiatives the government has implemented to help low-income families.
“Our latest aid to help the poor is BINGKAS (Bantuan Kehidupan Sejahtera Selangor) where families with household income below RM3,000 will receive RM300 per month for essential groceries. This is a evolution of our previous program for single mothers KISS (Kasih Ibu Smart Selangor) where they receive a card and a stipend of RM200 per month for groceries and other essentials BINGKAS is therefore an expansion to include single fathers and poor families. And the amount provided has been increased,” says Lim.
“While some are not yet aware of these initiatives, in Kampung Tunku we have tried to ensure that the aid reaches the people by putting up banners to inform the inhabitants of the programs. This is for the SMUE (Skim Mesra Usia Emas) which provides a RM100 birthday voucher for the elderly and OKU as well as funeral benefits once they have died,” she says.
“The B40 community has been significantly impacted by the rising cost of living and rising commodity prices. We hope these traditional brick-and-mortar business owners can learn to go online so they can gain access to a wider crowd,” Lim says.
Lim adds that, for his part, one of the things the federal government can do in the face of the rising cost of living is to ensure that price controls are enforced, especially for chicken and eggs. .
“For the Selangor government, we have set up this Intervensi Harga Makanan Ehsan program where we ensure that the relevant agencies sell chickens at the ceiling price of RM8 to RM10 across the state. There is now a shortage of chicken and what the state is doing is trying to increase the production of chickens and we have agricultural projects in place to produce more corn for the chickens,” she says.
We want the workshop to be useful to the participants and help them improve their income, she adds.
Workshop leader Jamie Thoo from Shopee Malaysia explains that most people think starting a business, especially an online business, is difficult and they are not sure about doing it. .
“But with the right knowledge and support, anyone can easily do business online,” she says.
Thoo, who has been an online merchant for six years, cites herself as an example.
“Years ago when I was living in Kuala Krai, Kelantan, I was not able to find a job that offered a salary that I could survive on because there were not many job opportunities. in a small kampung,” she reveals.
Thoo then decided to start an online business with just RM500 capital. As she was pregnant at that time, she decided to sell baby items like clothes.
“Everyone has a skill – whether you want to sell items you make yourself or items you get from a supplier. Even a skill like cooking, baking, or crafting can produce a product (eg, cakes, cookies, jewelry) to sell online,” she says.
“Of course, we have to be wise and select products that are not easily perishable so that they don’t go bad easily. All you need is a smartphone to take photos of the product and then upload it to the online platform, and you can also communicate with your potential customers using your smartphone. All of this is doable, not impossible,” she adds.
During the workshop, participants learned the basics of digital marketing: how to find the right product to sell and where to source it; how to choose a brand name, design a logo and an online store; how to upload items for sale, liaise with customers and encourage them to buy; etc
“If you already have a physical store, it can be an online extension of your business,” she says.
Thoo provided lots of practical advice and information on running an online business, such as pricing, bundling, packaging (a more attractive and marketable product) and online marketing.