Singapore: Housewives get help with home-based businesses

Becoming a food entrepreneur was not something 30-year-old housewife Siti Khadijah Alias, who has to cook for her family daily, had ever considered.

But through Project Cookoh, a community-based effort to help housewives in Jalan Kukoh start home-based businesses, Khadijah now earns enough from selling delicious party snacks such as mentaiko fries to take her kids out for special weekend activities.

Project Cookoh, which started at the end of March last year during the circuit breaker, has helped five mothers gain financial independence by marketing the items they sell and sourcing money for the women to attend cooking classes and attain certification.

Khadijah got her food photographed professionally and was taught how to manage her orders using Google Forms and how to schedule deliveries.

She said: “Even though I was a stay-home mother, I [had] always wanted to start my own business, just like my parents had.

“I just didn’t know how to start it. So when I saw this opportunity, complete with mentorship, I jumped at it.”

Nurhazirah Rahmat, 27, is another beneficiary of Project Cookoh.

She makes and sells tahu bagedil — a Malay snack of fried tofu skin stuffed with meat — and has received help from project volunteers to market the snacks.

The Project Cookoh mumpreneurs also benefit from another community project, called ReadAble, which has held English literacy and numeracy classes for children and mothers in the Chin Swee neighborhood since 2014.

Khadijah was introduced to the home-based business assistance program by Nurhazirah when the pair met at one of the ReadAble classes their children attend.

Samantha Kwan, 32, a core team member of ReadAble and creator of Project Cookoh, said the two women showed her how other housewives in the Jalan Kukoh area can be supported.

“There was an incipient desire from the mothers in my program to become entrepreneurs,” she said.

Kwan runs the program with a couple of friends, and has helped three other housewives, besides Nurhazirah and Khadijah.

They are Heni Sugiyarti, 30, Aorizen Yuliana, 37, and one other mother who has since moved away from Jalan Kukoh.

The beneficiaries have even been invited to pop-up events by Maxi Coffee Bar, Jekyll and Hyde, and Furama Hotel.

Nurhazirah and Khadijah told The Straits Times that they plan to start a drop-shipping business, under which they will buy drinks made with botanical extracts from specialty merchants online and resell them.

Kwan said she derives satisfaction from seeing other women thrive.

“From the very beginning, I always hoped that my help would allow them to succeed,” she said.

“Their success makes me feel like my job has been done.”