Start-Up Capital for Orang Asli

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Achu Ngah & wife in front of their shop

Achu Nyah, 39, of Kampong Sungei Plantok, Ulu Kuang is one enterprising Orang Asli who subscribes to the belief that hard work and a little help from friends is the gateway to success. This father of three was relentless in his search for a rewarding job to eke out an honest living. Prior to being the proud owner of a provision shop, Achu did odd jobs to earn enough to support his family. During one of his forays into Chemor he overheard that Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, had set aside RM4 million to help the poor and the marginalised in Perak.

Micro-credit facility, he was told, is being provided by Yayasan Bina Upaya (YBU), a state-link agency established for the purpose of eradicating poverty in Perak. “I applied, and after the routine screening, my application was approved,” he told Ipoh Echo.

Achu was given a RM15,000 interest-free loan, as capital to start a provision shop in his village. Kampong Sungai Plantok is home to about 400 Orang Asli and Achu’s shop is the first in this Semai settlement off Chemor. He has been operating the shop since January and now makes a tidy profit of between RM30 to RM50 a day. The shop, which is open between 7.00 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. daily, is well patronised by villagers. “I’ve gained acceptance by the village folks and this is a plus point,” he said after a simple ceremony to mark the opening of his shop, “Achu Ngah Entreprise” by Adun of Lintang, Dato’ Ahamad Pakeh Adam recently.

“Hopefully, my success will be a motivating factor for my people,” he remarked. Achu has five years to settle his loan and at the rate things are going he feels he can settle the loan much earlier than anticipated.

Yayasan Budi Upaya has received three applications to build similar shops in other Semai villages, one in Simpang Pulai and two in Grik. “We’ve plans to open up shops in 255 Asli settlements in Perak,” said Ismail Saffian, a member of the foundation’s board of trustees. The plan complements the state government’s ongoing programme to improve the living standards of those on the fringes of society. “Some of the other ventures we’ve in mind are motor repair, hair grooming and food supply,” Saffian added.

“We’ll provide them with both practical and management skills to start their small businesses,” said Ghafaruddin Usulddin, chief of YBU’s micro-credit division. The extent of the assistance is not confined to finance alone but entrepreneurial know-how as well.

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