By Nesha Pany
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 – A group of 33 transgenders participated in the Smart Start for New Entrepreneurs Workshop organized by Pertubuhan Kesihatan dan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) at a hotel here recently.
Funded by Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (MAIWPKL), the workshop is a development based programme specifically aimed at providing a startup guide for those in the transgender community keen on venturing into small businesses.
At the workshop, participants were briefed on business registration procedures, the myriad of business opportunities, as well as planning strategies. Besides the technical aspects of running a small business, there were also sessions that covered a religious talk, welfare support, as well as mental health management for entrepreneurs. Participants were also put through lively exercises that were aimed at instilling an awareness and understanding of the importance of building emotional strength, which would be required to initiate and sustain a business.
A participant, Yasmin, 51, said she found the workshop to be very valuable and helpful. “Being a transgender, I am aware that I have very little knowledge and experience about starting and running a business. Through workshops like these, it is providing the transgender community a platform to come forward with sharing their ideas where they are guided from the beginning till end.” She said the workshop not only provided here a business networking opportunity but was “empowering” as well.
During the event, established entrepreneurs also shared their experiences. For Arunthadhee, 32, it has been several years since she has been running her online business where she sells goods from India that include brass products and traditional Indian attires.
She shared her struggles on learning about the import and export procedures but added that she never saw them as obstacles to her pursuit. “We transgenders are not disabled, we are capable of anything just as long as we are in for it. All it takes is passion, patience, and hard work,” she said. Coming from a poor background, Arunthadhee said she was proud of herself and how she had worked her way out of poverty, and managed to buy her own house in the Klang Valley.
The president of PKKUM, Elisha Korr Krishnan, 43, said, one of the major challenges the community faced was in taking the first step to come up with the startup capital. “We welcome any private companies or departments that would want to help transgenders, not just in terms of finance but also in other capacities like business consultation. You can support us through this organisation,” she said.
She also said business workshops had a positive impact in community development especially for the marginalised and underdeveloped.
“It aids the disadvantaged to improve the welfare of their respective communities. By promoting social mobility, the community’s collective quality of life would improve as it increases opportunities for growth and jobs leading to social stability. It is an effort to mitigate the social and economic conditions of this community, working towards closing the gap of disparity while diversifying human capital in Malaysia.”
Todate, PKKUM has organised four such business start-up seminars with three of them funded by the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) for the Indian transgender community. The event today is the first to be funded by MAIWPKL for the Muslim transgenders in the country.