Siti Zailah (right) and Fatimah taking a look at the woven bags while being briefed by Abang Shamsudin. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

GENERATING INCOME FOR NEEDY

BY TANIA LAM & NIA NATASHA HASENAN

KUCHING:Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff has urged other Malaysian states to follow in the footsteps of Sarawak by assisting the needy to generate their own income.

She was referring to Koperasi Usahawan Mikro Kebajikan Bersatu Berhad, which she also hoped would be expanded to other divisions and districts throughout Sarawak.

“So far, I have not seen this in other states, so I hope that what Sarawak is doing will be an example and inspiration to other states,” she said when visiting the Wellbest Excellence Centre under Koperasi Usahawan Mikro Kebajikan Bersatu Berhad at MetroCity Square today.

“I will take note and extend this to our ministry to look into. This is because we have many diverse target groups — including senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, poor families and single mothers,” she added. 

She commended the state government’s efforts in helping monthly welfare assistance recipients to earn their own income and lift them out of poverty.

The deputy minister said that having such cooperative allowed those with various talents and skills — such as cooking, sewing, weaving and so on — to market their products.

“We hope that our target groups will take this opportunity to build their skills and talents, while also strengthening their family’s economic circumstances,” said Siti Zailah. 

Meanwhile, Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said that the Wellbest Excellence Centre involved three shoplots costing RM4.8 million.

The centre is used to showcase entrepreneurial products and to market micro-entrepreneurs’ products. There is also a space for services such as spa, salon, massage and facial, in addition to another area for offices and training, she said.

“Our micro-entrepreneurs comprise monthly assistance recipients from the Social Welfare Department (JKM). They are given a grant of RM5,000 (per individual) — not in the form of cash but equipment,” she explained, hoping that this support would help these target groups to increase their income.

She said that these micro-entrepreneurs were also guided in terms of skills needed to ensure that their products were of quality — adding that business skills were also important, with emphasis on online businesses now.

“Our goal is to ensure that their income will increase and they can cross the poverty line. With that, they will no longer require monthly welfare assistance from the government and they can give way to others who need the aid,” said Fatimah.

She said this state government-funded cooperative programme, which started in 2016, targeted to help 750 individuals each year. Thus far, she said over 3,000 individuals had been assisted under this programme.

Also present at the visit was Koperasi Usahawan Mikro Kebajikan Bersatu Berhad chairman Abang Shamsudin Saruji.