Picha Eats 0 2318

Creating Empowerment Through Food

A soon to be household name, Picha Eats is a social enterprise that aims to create a sustainable and equitable ecosystem for refugees in Malaysia through the one thing we can all relate to – food! Founded in 2016 by Lim Yuet Kim, Lee Swee Lin and Suzanne Ling, they provide boxed meals, catering, open house experiences and shelf products all produced by refugees. As a company, Picha Eats embodies what it means to be a responsible business. They work for profit, but do so in a way that is thoughtful to their community. 

After working as teachers at a refugee learning centre, the three women noticed that many children had to drop out due to financial troubles. They sought a solution to empower the families of these children. Realising the value of empowerment as a crucial part in creating a sustainable business model; they wanted to create something that wasn’t about giving handouts, rather, about training individuals to be able to provide for themselves. On the most basic level, near or far, we are all connected by food. Especially in a country like Malaysia where food is a vital part of our culture and is seen as something so meaningful to many of us. Picha Eats goes further to make this connection even more meaningful by giving customers the opportunity to eat good food while also supporting a pervasive cause. 

Social enterprises have a unique position in the economic market, they disrupt the traditional notions of business by tying in the community-serving nature of NGOs and non-profits with the traditional for-profit model. With Picha, by creating an empowerment-based system which is equitable, they are able to sustain both the refugees who work for them and the business itself. They are a business which is for the community and by the community. Their financial model works in a 50/50 way; if they make 1 million in a year, 500,000 goes right back to the refugee chefs who work and sell their products. So when it comes to bottom lines, they are focused on the finances and the numbers above all else because that’s how they measure their impact. If they are able to make enough to provide a liveable income for all their employees, then they’re hitting their goals. 

Although they are a financially-minded business, their mission is rooted deep in changing the mindset and perception of refugees in Malaysia. To those of us who have access to the internet, higher education and reading materials,  we are able to learn and understand more about the refugee crisis. But there are a lot of people in our country who do not have such access, and because of this there are many people who believe in notions like “all refugees live in camps” or “refugees want to be in Malaysia”. These can’t be further from the truth. What Picha tries to do to combat these perceptions is educate their community through stories of empowerment. They never frame their content around pity, it’s about showing that upliftment is possible and that it is important to focus on a narrative that exemplifies resilience. At the end of the day, being a company that works so closely with a hugely marginalised community, bringing awareness and rewriting the narrative is at the heart of what they do.

The Zaza Movement

The Zaza Movement is a project under Picha Eats where individuals can purchase meals to give to someone in need. This movement started in 2017 when one of the chefs – A Syrian man named Zaza –  had gotten cancer. Two weeks before he passed, he spoke about how he wanted to cook chicken mandi and give it out to the people at the Mosque. Moved by this, the team started the Zaza Movement to do exactly this – bring good food to the communities who need it. During the MCO, many families struggled to put food on the table. Seeing this need, Picha worked to sponsor food for the B40 community and the front-liners. They managed to distribute 25,000 meals, had 293 meal sponsors and delivered to 31 locations. It is a truly beautiful message, to have refugees working hard to give back to a community that doesn’t always view them in a positive light. It is perception-changing, it is doing the right thing and it is putting the community first. 

Picha Eats is a force to be reckoned with, throughout their four years of existence their growth has been extraordinary to watch. To date, they have managed to give back 2 million to their chefs. They started with just one chef making meals in her home, but have gone on to have been part of Urbanscapes, have a pop-up store at Ben’s Independent Grocer and even catered over 600 corporate functions. For a community that often struggles with making ends meet, this type of success and this type of recognition is extremely meaningful. Picha makes it possible for them to enter the economic market in Malaysia and earn a sustainable income, changing the pre-established rhetoric surrounding refugees. They’re not here to play, their hard work has made them on par with other Malaysian cafes, exemplifying that a business rooted in sustainable responsibility can exist in the same playing field as the more traditionally run businesses.

Picha stands out as one of the most successful social enterprises in Malaysia. They set an example as to how to make a business equitable, proving that working for a cause can be profitable. In this increasingly mindful society, we believe that businesses like this will come out on top. We look forward to seeing how Picha Eats will grow from this point forward, if it looks anything like the past 4 years – we’re in for a delicious treat!

Check out Picha Eats: https://pichaeats.com/


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Adzappr 4 5428

It’s safe to say that this past year and a half has been hard on most of us. From the mental health struggles of staying at home to the financial strain many of us have been placed under, it’s become more and more difficult to make ends meet. Many individuals have started looking for various opportunities to supplement their income and one homegrown startup is providing just that. 

Adzappr, a community driven advertising platform, offers a fresh solution to earning a passive income. While most passive income streams require major capital to get started, all you need for Adzappr is your phone and a WhatsApp account. 

In the majority of the world, WhatsApp is the most used messaging software with many of us using it for both our work and personal lives. When it comes to WhatsApp, around 65% of us regularly change our display picture – I mean every time we take a cute new selfie we gotta update! We don’t often think twice about it because it’s generally perceived as just a fun part of the app. Adzappr, however, taps into the unrealised potential that your WhatsApp display picture has. 

So how does this work?

Basically, all you have to do is create a profile on the Adzappr program, connect with their dedicated WhatsApp number and choose an ad that you’d like to promote. From there, you just change your WhatsApp display picture, get approved and you’re making money. On the side of advertisers, you can submit your ad to Adzappr and from there you can set your creatives, budget and campaign duration before it goes live to the users. 

Adzappr aims to empower influencers and cultivate an inclusive community of members from all walks of life. This doesn’t just aid the users but advertisers too in reaching a wider variety of audiences. With big businesses crowding much of the advertising space on mainstream platforms, this alternative solution opens up a whole new realm of advertising space, optimising display pictures in a whole new way.

One of the greatest aspects of Adzappr is that apart from the initial choosing of campaign and changing of display picture, there is no other action required from the user. Of course, the more you participate in campaigns the more money you make but the process makes it easy on users. It’s so simple and for those of us who are already juggling work, family and life, it offers a chance to make money, RM50 and up per month,  without sacrificing more of your already limited time.

This 8 month old startup is full of passion. The devoted team has managed to successfully create and launch this software all throughout the pandemic. This serves as a testament to the resilience of start-ups that have a solid foundation of leadership and commitment of the team. Despite most companies struggling during this time, Adzappr has shown that they are a force to be reckoned with through their innovation and creativity. 

For more information on Adzappr, check out their website: www.adzappr.com or contact them at 016-866-4775.

Yellow House KL Comments Off on Yellow House KL 1957

Uplifting the lives of those all around us 

Homelessness is an ever-growing problem that affects over 1.6 billion individuals all over the world. When it comes to the homeless population of KL, many of us are blind to their existence because so many of us have been sheltered from ever seeing them. However, homelessness is a big problem in our country with there being over 2,000 homeless individuals in just the city centre alone. One organisation working to empower the urban poor and homeless community is Yellow House KL, we took some time to talk to them about what they do and on how to create sustainable impact:

What is Yellow House KL?
Yellow House is a non-profit community organisation that focuses on uplifting the lives of the underprivileged in Malaysia.

How did Yellow House KL start?
Yellow House KL started as the brainchild of our founder, Shyam Priah with the support of some friends with whom she had worked on community projects prior to the NGO’s formation. Shyam has always had a passion for community projects even before the formation of YH. 

How long have you guys been around for?
Yellow House KL was formed in 2012, we are currently in our ninth year of operations.

What was the initial goal when starting Yellow House KL and how has that evolved?
The initial goal when setting up Yellow House was to uplift the lives of the underprivileged around us. While the goal in itself has not changed, we have evolved into placing greater focus and emphasis on looking for sustainable solutions for our beneficiaries. We have moved beyond providing direct aid to a more sustainable model of providing capacity building skills to increase the employability of our beneficiaries. In the same vein, we are also moving towards sustaining our own operations with a social enterprise and social business model.

Can you elaborate on some of the initiatives at Yellow House?
Our biggest success story is The Unseen Tours, where we get street friends to provide a tour of “unseen” parts of Kuala Lumpur to visitors and locals alike. We have also worked extensively to help individuals within the homeless community get off the streets by finding them employment and housing through our network of partners. We are currently developing an urban garden in the heart of KL and aim to use this space to empower community members to learn self-sufficient gardening.

What are the Unseen Tours?
Unseen Tours are where our street friends; who are our beneficiaries, provide walking tours for locals and tourists to see parts of Kuala Lumpur that are not usually captured in tourist-centric tours.

What has the response been from the people who have taken the tours?
The response has been really positive so far, and we find ourselves fully booked at times. It’s fair to say the demand at times exceeds the supply as we have a limited number of street friends who conduct the tours.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced being a non-profit?
The biggest challenges are on two fronts – sustaining our operations, and also in working with our beneficiaries. Building relationships with our beneficiaries, and subsequently maintaining them takes a very long time, and sometimes there are those who drop out of our programmes.

How do you fund your operations?
We fund our operations mainly through our volunteering residence in Ampang where volunteers from all over the world come to stay and later become our human capital, helping us conduct programmes and lead engagements with our beneficiaries depending on their own expertise. However, as the pandemic limits volunteer movement, we’ve also received grants from various organisations to carry out aid work.

How do you measure your impact?
We measure our impact by the amount of people whose lives we have managed to sustainably uplift. To date, we have managed to uplift over 100 beneficiaries.

Why did you choose this cause to champion?
We chose sustainable livelihood as our primary cause because we believe it is our civic duty to put our knowledge to good use in order to create more sustainable solutions when we set out to help the underprivileged people.

What are some notable milestones in the journey of Yellow House KL?
One of our recent milestones was being able to fundraise almost RM 100,000 to deliver essential goods to thousands of people from the B40, migrant and refugee community during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Are there any moments that stand out to you as particularly meaningful throughout your journey?
The fundraising we did during the MCO would really stand out because during that time we all collectively faced a sense of uncertainty. The amount of donations that came in truly demonstrated compassion even during such trying times, and showed how much Malaysians are willing to contribute to society.

As an organisation that often works with marginalised communities, what are some of the misconceptions Malaysias have about the urban poor/refugees and what has been the experience of educating the community?
This is an ongoing challenge, as many Malaysians do not always understand the situations which force certain refugees or migrants to end up in Malaysia. However, we believe that these are in the minority and the majority of Malaysians are always warm and welcoming and are able to show empathy to these marginalised communities. As we attempt to uplift their lives, their own transformation should be a testament that not all migrants and refugees are here to do menial jobs or participate in illegal activities.

How do you see the company evolving and growing over the next couple of years?
Being a community organisation, we aim to scale to a point where we can run several sustainable programmes on our own. As mentioned previously, we are working towards the goal of having a social enterprise model and that is the direction we are actively pursuing, to ensure our own sustainability so we can serve more of the community. 

Check out Yellow House KL: http://yellowhousekl.com/ngo/


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