Ibupreneur helps vulnerable mothers stand on their own

Aminah Farid

Ibupreneur co-founder Aida Zunaidi says she was inspired by mothers who persevered despite the challenges. – Pix courtesy of Ibupreneur, February 13, 2021.

IBUPRENEUR, a social enterprise, has been helping vulnerable female household heads earn a sustainable income through baking.

Aida Zunaidi co-founded Ibupreneur in 2019 after being inspired by mothers she met who never gave despite life’s struggles.

“I was introduced to an amazing woman, Ely, a single mother in her 60s, who has battled through life with severe health struggles and loss of a loved one, but she is still powered through in her daily life and business.

“Her main motivation is her 8-year-old girl. She also baked amazing kek lapis, and I wanted to share her talent and legacy with everyone,” Aida told The Malaysian Insight.

She said the other three mothers also had similar stories; they are talented, driven, yet lack the know-how to run their business with modern methods, such as e-commerce, digital marketing, and branding, which is where Ibupreneur steps in.

“Our focus is to support financially dependent and vulnerable mothers, be it single, B40, unemployed, retired women with low savings,” she said.

Aida and two partners decided to create a platform where unemployed, stay-at-home mothers could sell their baked goods and generate an income at the same time.

She said they didn’t have to look far to find mothers on hard times.

“Firstly, we started with people close to us who could benefit from the support. Then, we worked with partners like Sunway Education Group who have data of B40 women during our Social Kitchen partnership programme or with IbuPJ or MBPJ who has data on single mothers.

“We recruit mothers based on their talents, what unique products that they can produce. Then we look at their entrepreneurial skills and attitude, the drive to innovate products and resilience,” she said.

Aida said because the mothers were already skillful, all the programme had to do was fine tune in their technique.

There are nine women in the Ibupreneur, and they were selected because of their skills and entrepreneurial attitude. – Pix courtesy of Ibupreneur, February 13, 2021.

Before the Covid-19 epidemic, Ibupreneur partnered with Sunway Education Group in The Social Kitchen, where mothers were taught by award-winning pastry chefs. However, the class was halted due to the pandemic.

“We send them to food-handling courses for hygiene practices to ensure they meet Health Ministry requirements before we serve the community as well,” she said.

As of today, Ibupreneur has employed nine mothers, who each earn about RM700 to RM800 a week. Aida said the aim was for them earn at least RM2,500 a month.

“We have nine mothers with 78 products. They specialise in operations, product development; while we focus on branding, marketing, and business development to ensure they generate consistent income to be financially independent.”

Aida said 60% of the takings go to the mothers, while 40% goes to branding, marketing, and business development.

Since its foundation, Ibupreneur has generated over RM80,000 in revenue.

“We are financially sustainable and independent at the moment. We’ve generated 11 times more than the initial capital, which allows us to operate our current business model based on our P&L/cash generated.

“Our existing capital also grew seven times more, but we are re-investing 100% of profits back into Ibupreneur to generate more impact.

“This year, we aim to secure six business-to-business (b2b) contracts each quarter with a goal of RM5,000-RM6,000 per month from each. As we build our demand, we can recruit more mothers, expand our product line, and ensure continuous scalability for Ibupreneur.”

The participants in Ibupreneur are taught e-commerce tools as well as new baking techniques. – Pix courtesy of Ibupreneur, February 13, 2021.

A step at a time 

However, Aida said Ibupreneur was not able to recruit too many mothers for the time being, because she believed that as a social enterprise, there must be a balance between supply and demand. 

She said even now it was difficult to find that balance.

“Hence why we collaborated with Celcom on IbuDigital that provides an online workshop for women to embark on their own entrepreneurship online from home,” she said.

“IbuDigital has a database of 229 women with 1,700 participant viewers in our workshop. 

Aida said among the lessons are how to take quality photographs of products using only their phones for social media platforms. They also teach branding, simple digital marketing, and sales and marketing to help those interested in starting a home business. 

Running a social enterprise, however, is not without its challenges. Aida said one of the difficulties was ensuring a consistent income for these women.

On top of that, Aida said summoning the resilience to drive a business when times are tough is hard.

“I respect our mothers. When products don’t come out right, I must speak to them respectfully while at the same time, sharing our mission and why it is important to have consistency and product quality.”  

Ibupreneur has managed to weather the Covid-19 storm by establishing a strong online presence and ensuring that it balances with their go-to-market activities.

She said the social movement of #KitaJagaKita also helped, as people everywhere rallied together to help each other.

“Alhamdullilah, it has been a blessing and opportunity to grow. It has been amazing seeing how the community came to support one another. Social mission is what a lot of people are pursuing and paying attention,” Aida said.

Those interested in buying Ibupreneur products may visit their website. – February 13, 2021.

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