Traders, consumers hail Putrajaya’s vending machine scheme

Kalidevi Mogan Kumarappa

The People’s Income Initiative allows food entrepreneurs to generate side income via government-funded, self-service vending machines at strategic locations. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 2, 2023.

PUTRAJAYA’s scheme allowing food entrepreneurs to earn extra income by investing in self-service vending machines is paying off, said participants.

Under the People’s Income Initiative (PII), which targets food sellers from low-income segments, participants are furnished with vending machines, trading space and equipment.

Using the machines, they sell their own products or rent out space for other traders’ food products.

Participant Amiruddin Ahmad Abdul Jalil, 28, said he earns profits of more than RM2,000 a month.

He said this is helpful amid rising living costs.

“This is my side income. I sell a variety of food including rice, noodles, sandwiches and cakes from RM2 to RM5 through a vending machine located in KL Sentral.

“I was able to achieve sales of RM4,000 to RM5,000 and even receive a monthly profit of RM2,500,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Putrajaya aims to expand the self-service vending machine scheme to 5,000 participants this year. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 2, 2023.

Amiruddin however said he needs to increase the amount of food he puts in the machine.

“I’m aiming for a profit of RM7,000 per month in the future. This initiative really helps low-income people like me to generate income,” said Amiruddin, who hails from Sabah and lives in Kuala Lumpur.

In March, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli launched the PII self-service vending machine programme.

The government is aiming to expand the programme’s reach to 5,000 participants under the Food Entrepreneur Initiative this year.

Amiruddin said participants enjoy various benefits, including a two-year rental waiver and electricity costs being borne by site owners or strategic partners. 

“I am grateful to the government for providing opportunities and benefits like this to help the B40 group, which needs to generate additional income,” he said.

He said ready-to-eat food sold at reasonable prices in vending machines is becoming more popular, including among foreigners.

He said he hopes more youth will participate in similar initiatives to change their fortunes and increase their side incomes.

“I work full-time but I took the challenge to join this programme to generate side income because I live in the city and the cost of living is high here,” Amiruddin said.

Food entrepreneurs sell their products via self-service vending machines financed by the government under the People’s Income Initiative. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 2, 2023.

Ease of use

Another participant, Fatin Afifah Alias, 41, said the self-service vending machines offer convenience to the public to enjoy breakfast and lunch at reasonable prices. 

“I was able to sell between 100 and 120 packets of nasi lemak a day and never had a user complain about the machine malfunctions or payment difficulties.

“On the first day alone, I managed to sell 100 packets of nasi lemak and added another 20. This programme has helped a lot in terms of sales.

“The PII is suitable for graduates who have yet to find a job. The (cost of this) initiative is fully borne by the government, so we only need capital,” she said, adding that her machine is located at a LRT station.

She said if the food in the machine runs out, she receives an alert via a smartphone app.

“With this app, I don’t need to be at the LRT station for too long. I’ll just come to refill the food that has finished and top-up the lunch menu.

“As for expenses, I only need to have capital to prepare the food, while the rest is financed by the government for two years,” she said.

Fatin sells packets of nasi dagang with fish at RM5 each for lunch.

Consumers say they are pleased to have affordable meal options for breakfast and lunch via self-service vending machines. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, June 2, 2023.

A survey by The Malaysian Insight at the Cempaka, Ampang, KL Sentral and Kayu Ara LRT stations found many consumers using the self-service vending machines to buy RM2 breakfasts and RM5 lunches.

Civil servant Thevandran, 38, was pleased with the programme as having food readily available is helpful for commuters like himself who are rushing to work. 

“In the current economic situation, the prices of RM2 and RM5 are very reasonable. Many people now are in difficult situations, hence cheap items should be supported.

“Buying food through this machine is really easy and fast. I just hope more machines will be provided in strategic locations with more food choices until dinner,” he said.

Private sector worker Muhammad Hakim Abdul Ghaffar, 29, said he does not have to walk far to get affordable food for breakfast.

“Before this, I had to walk quite a distance to get cheap food. Even then, I had to pay at least RM8 to get a full plate,” he said.

Now, he said, with RM5, he can buy lunch in his residential area.

Driver Darwin Kelvin, 32, said he would go to the PII machines at KL Sentral or Cempaka LRT to buy breakfast or lunch after dropping his employer off.

“Before, I needed RM15 a day for food, but now I can save between RM5 and RM7 a day,” he said. – June 2, 2023.

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