Persons with disabilities (PwDs) have lengthy had their wants unmet or shafted in Malaysia. The Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 exists, however many PwDs have known as for a overview and replace of the act to higher cater to them.
But regardless of the insurance policies for honest therapy, the implementation and enforcement of them are missing. Thus, social enterprises have taken issues into their own arms by hiring teams of PwDs to practice and upskill them, permitting them to earn some revenue independently too.
Some examples of such organisations would be Stand Pie Me and Autism Cafe Project which work with autistic younger adults, and Silent Teddies, which focuses on empowering the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.
Those apart, there are additionally PwDs who go on to be entrepreneurs with the assistance of family members. One such entrepreneur I just lately learnt of was Ahmad Musim Muzaffar, who runs Muzaffar Mart with the assistance of his father, Ahmad Fairuz, or Coach Fairuz.
A step forward
Muzaffar, presently 22 years previous, had already been promoting muffins below the model Muffins by Muzaffar on the Autism Cafe Project approach again in 2019.
Though he loved what he did, beginning the mart wasn’t one thing on his prior agenda. Instead, Muzaffar was in an area programme that educated autistic youth in IT or culinary arts. He’d spent 6 months there coaching to have primary IT expertise, doubtless impressed by Fairuz, who had nearly 30 years of expertise within the software program trade.
However, issues later took a flip with the programme, and Muzaffar wasn’t provided the employment he was promised upon completion of the coaching.
Although each father and son had had excessive hopes for this job and the potential safety it might’ve provided Muzaffar, Fairuz already had one other plan in thoughts if issues didn’t work out—entrepreneurship.
“As a parent of a child with autism, our main concern is always what happens to them when we’re no longer around. And with this mart around, it helps put us more at ease knowing that he can continue running this in the future with someone we trust,” Fairuz shared with Vulcan Post.
He additionally shared that he initially discovered it difficult to come to phrases with Muzaffar’s prognosis, however relatively than dwell on it, Fairuz and his household learnt to assume constructive, plan for Muzaffar’s future, and transfer ahead.
Fairuz himself later turned an autism train specialist, and right this moment coaches high-functioning autistic college students in tennis.
Lessons learnt as a budding entrepreneur
Muzaffar’s journey started with muffins, however when Fairuz’s pal within the fragrance business learnt of their plans to begin the mart, he provided to create a fragrance model for Muzaffar.
It was a heartwarming gesture for Fairuz, who beamed as he recalled, “We’re very proud that Muzaffar, a person with autism and who’s not even a celebrity can have his own perfume line.”
From 2019 till right this moment, Muzaffar has offered about 5,000 muffins and some hundred bottles of perfumes, which Fairuz considers a milestone for his son’s journey in entrepreneurship to date. Recently, he’s additionally started promoting recent Sabahan seafood.
Besides doing e-commerce, Muzaffar has additionally offered out his merchandise in bodily bazaars earlier than, most notably on the Autsome Bazaar organised by Sunway Putra Mall.
But like each different entrepreneurship journey, there are at all times classes to be learnt. For Muzaffar, one of many largest classes was studying to face rejection when promoting his merchandise.
“During the bazaar, we tried not to bring too many muffins because we were worried they might not be sold out. Muzaffar gets sad when they don’t,” Fairuz defined, including that his son used to additionally get upset when folks handed by with out making a purchase order.
“To him, when someone inquires about his product, they should buy them after. He took a while to understand that.”
Admittedly, Muzaffar’s frustration was comprehensible since he manned his bazaar stall from morning to night, which might be tiring for anybody. To add, autism can be accompanied by sensory points too, whereby widespread on a regular basis noises to us could really feel overwhelming for these with the situation. Thankfully although, this was the place the Sunway mall’s calm room for autistic folks got here in useful for Muzaffar to recuperate.
Fairuz additionally recalled, “When Muzaffar first started baking, he asked me for money once he was done with the baked goods!” To overcome this misunderstanding, he defined the method of gross sales to Muzaffar and what he might do to maximise his muffin gross sales.
“Sometimes, customers pay late as well, so I had to teach him how he can only get paid once they’ve paid, not right after he finished baking. People with autism sometimes have this rigidity in understanding processes, so it was something we had to get familiarised with,” he shared.
Thanks to Fairuz’s heat steering, Muzaffar has come a good distance from his early entrepreneurship days.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Muzaffar is in control of baking and stock administration, so he would inform Fairuz anytime they’re working low on baking provides like eggs, blueberries, chocolate chips, and many others. With his full-time job and position as Muzaffar’s assistant, the daddy finds himself often working 7 days per week.
It’s tiring, however Fairuz finds it extra affordable to assist Muzaffar at residence as an alternative of sending him to work at social enterprises with teams of different youth. Because each he and his spouse are full-time staff, transporting Muzaffar forwards and backwards to his office would be tough.
Furthermore, Fairuz has bigger plans for Muzaffar Mart. “My plan for this mart is to give job opportunities for those who are in Muzaffar’s shoes as well, people with disabilities who need employment as we grow,” he shared with Vulcan Post.
He’s hoping that they’ll go bodily in the future, as it might be a dream come true for him and Muzaffar, on high of being within the place to afford giving extra PwDs employment alternatives. Fairuz additionally plans to provide his tennis teaching as a service by the mart.
However, he acknowledged, “With the current pandemic and uncertainties, we think it’s not the ideal time yet to open a physical mart.”
Taking the initiative as an alternative of ready
We’ve seen the various ways in which companies have diversified particularly throughout the pandemic, when entrepreneurs have to be extra resilient in weathering the storm.
For entrepreneurs with disabilities like Muzaffar, this follow of diversifying of their careers to put together for the long run is one thing they’ve develop into accustomed to because the starting.
The authorities nonetheless has a good distance to go with correctly implementing the 1% affirmative motion for hiring PwDs. In the meantime, social enterprises and supportive mother and father like Fairuz are those who’ve to create alternatives for PwDs.
If Fairuz and Muzaffar can proceed working Muzaffar Mart in a sustainable method and reinvest income to develop the business, there’s little question that they’ll discover a goal market that aligns with their mission.
- You can learn extra about Muzaffar Mart right here.
- You can learn extra about different Malaysian startups we’ve coated right here.
Featured Image Credit: Muzaffar and Fairuz, founders of Muzaffar Mart
#Note-Author Name – Faye Lee