She takes leap to be hawker after years in banking sector
Couple's leap of faith pays off with Promising New Hawker Award
Ms Elayne Ang had worked for more than 15 years in the banking industry when she decided to take a leap to become a hawker.
The big switch in 2019 saw her opening a stall to sell carrot cake and Hokkien mee, and fielding questions from well-meaning friends about forgoing a stable, successful job with a steady income for the uncertainties of the hawker trade.
Ms Ang, 40, who set up the stall with her partner, Mr Samuel Tan, 36, told The Straits Times yesterday: "When people found out about it, they asked if we were crazy. But we just felt that we could do it and we went ahead."
Less than two years on, she has forged ahead in her new career, and received a Promising New Hawker Award yesterday at the first Singapore Hawkers Awards.
Organised by The Federation of Merchants' Associations, Singapore, and Chinese-language daily Lianhe Wanbao, the awards have two other categories - the Hawker Heritage Award and the Enterprising Hawker Award.
A total of 15 hawkers yesterday received awards for their efforts in shaping the country's prized hawker culture, which was added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last month.
The recipients were chosen from more than 110 applications and will each get $500.
Ms Ang said of her career change: "I had a decent salary. But there was office politics, it was always an ever-running sales number, and we were always in a rat race. I was thinking to myself, 'Do I want to continue this in my 40s and 50s?'"
Ms Ang left her job and started Tian Kee Carrot Cake and Hokkien Mee withMr Tan at Block 84 Marine Parade Central in mid-2019.
The work was tough, but the pair pushed on, coming up with their signature crispy black carrot cake, a hot seller, and gaining a pool of regulars who helped keep them afloat amid the pandemic. Other hawkers also supported them.
Ms Ang said: "We got more than just the business. The kind of friendship and community spirit that we got were so strong, and they accepted us like a big family."
A new work-study programme to help ease the entry of young people into the hawker trade will be launched in March.
The Work-Study Post-Diploma (Certificate in Hawkerpreneurship), which comes under the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) work-study programme, is the first of its kind.
Announcing the programme at the second edition of the SG Hawker Seminar yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor said: "With the increasing recognition and appreciation of hawker fare, setting up a hawker stall can be considered a gateway into the F&B sector, and there could be budding food and beverage entrepreneurs who may aspire to join the hawker trade."
She said that support has been given to hawkers to help them digitalise in the form of a new module launched by the National Environment Agency and SSG titled Adapt to Change - Digitalisation for Hawkers under the Hawkers' Development Programme.
Said Dr Khor: "To keep our hawker culture thriving, we cannot just do the same things the same way. We need to adapt to change and do the same things in different ways, which is borne out by our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic."