A 25-year-old Sarawakian aims to help local farmers to earn more

Afiq Khatem, 25, the founder of Komubox, the top five winners of Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE programme 2021 at a community farm in Stakan, Samarahan.

KUCHING: Realising that many local farmers are making small profit despite the huge potential and demand for fresh produce, a 25-year-old Sarawakian has decided to set up a platform to increase their incomes.

Muhammad Afiq Hariz Khatem, a freelance digital marketer, said a lot of farmers in Sarawak were earning less than RM2,000 per month no matter how hard they work due to the intermediaries that buy in bulk from them at a very low price.

Hence, he created Komubox last year, a social enterprise to help local farmers to grow their incomes and at the same time help young unemployed youth to become farmers and gain profit from it.

He said “Komu” means “komuniti”, which means community in English.

“We want to help the local farmers to earn better income under our project by buying their produce at a higher price. We will provide training for them to improve the quantity and quality of their produce,” he told New Sarawak Tribune.

“We also believed in the need to get more youths in agriculture, hence, we want to empower community farming in Sarawak,” he said.

Afiq said customers could have their groceries delivered to their doorstep based on their preference; whether it’s weekly, biweekly or monthly via online order.

He said Komubox hoped to make grocery shopping for fresh produce more accessible for people in Kuching and Kota Samarahan, offering the season’s best farm-fresh produce, starting at RM49.00 per box.

“Our target market is busy parents that work office hours and that prefer to get groceries, such as vegetables, fruits, and local products through our website,” he said.

“We hope Komubox will receive more support from people in Kuching and Samarahan before it could be replicated or expanded to other cities and suburbs in Sarawak.”

“I want (to have) more local produce and products accessible to Sarawakians and beyond,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh presents the RM15,000 grant to Muhammad Afiq Hariz Khatem of Komubox at the Shell LiveWIRE Sarawak 2021 Awards at Tegas Digital Village (TDV), Sama Jaya High Tech Park here recently.

Afiq, the founder of Komubox was one of the top five winners of Sarawak Shell LiveWIRE programme 2021, which was announced recently. The Shell’s flagship enterprise development programme was delivered in partnership with Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Sarawak (TEGAS) to develop more entrepreneurs among the Sarawak community.

He participated last in November last year as to upgrade his entrepreneurship skills and to receive valuable feedback for Komubox as well as to secure the RM15,000 grant to create Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for his business.

“We have to compete with more than 40 entrepreneurs in Sarawak to get into the top 10 before becoming the five finalists – to win the grant,” he said.

Afiq said lack of grant and talent were among the challenges in managing his social enterprise, hence, he hoped to have more financial support in the future to solidify Komubox.

A mock-up of Komubox

He said Komubox aimed to train more unemployed youth to become farmer and gain income from it this year.

“We want to have 30 farmers from all across Kuching and Kota Samarahan to become our farmers and get value from this project.”

“Besides, we are targeting to increase the income of the farmers between 15 and 20 per cent under our project,” he added.

Afiq who graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration Majoring in Entrepreneurship from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Puncak Alam, is also the (protem) co-founder of World Merit Malaysia.

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