Helping the poor to become 'towkays'
New scheme teaches the needy business skills
Independence and freedom is what Mr Zaini Hamid, 36, wants in a job.
Born with cerebral palsy, he tried to make ends meet by selling ballpoint pens with crystals or embellishments for $10 each in Bedok and Geylang for six months.
That was two years ago when he could not get a desk-bound job.
He said: "I only earned $120 every month, after the company (which supplied the pens) took a cut from my pay."
His 33-year-old wife used to work as a pre-school teacher, earning about $1,800 a month, which went to paying for their monthly flat rent of $165.
Now, under TOWKAY @ South West, a programme that was launched on Thursday, Mr Zaini could make $800 to $1,200 a month.
The programme is a collaboration between Gobbler5, a social enterprise under the ComfortDelGro Group, and the South West Community Development Council.
It aims to help those from low-income families become financially independent by teaching them how to start and run a business.
From now till February, beneficiaries are given 1,200 packets of tissue to sell at $2 for four packets.
They are also given ez-link cards with a stored value of $88 to use for their transport.
Gobbler5 founder Janan Kwek, 26, said: "I was walking by one of Gobbler5's pushcarts which sells discounted groceries and I had a vision that one day, marginalised individuals can utilise the space given to earn an income for themselves."
Mr Jamaludin Awang, 57, who is visually impaired in his right eye, and his wife, Madam Mastura Haji Abdullah, 56, are also beneficiaries of the programme.
Mr Jamaludin, who used to earn $180 a month as a dishwasher, and Madam Mastura, a former stall helper, had to provide for their three children while paying the $230 monthly rent on their flat.
Ms Low Yen Ling, Mayor of South West CDC, said TOWKAY @ South West is a good initiative as beneficiaries can learn basic business know-how and work in a safe environment.
MPs, social service officers, family service centres or voluntary welfare organisations will screen potential beneficiaries and refer them to Gobbler5.
TOWKAY @ South West has three participants, but hopes to have five by year-end, and 20 by next year.