“I was given a second chance at life. Every day is a gift I get to spend with my children,” said Che Che Wan Mon binti Omar, a single mother of five.
These words are not a cliché.
Che Wan experienced a couple of dark and treacherous seasons in life when she lost her husband a few years ago and soon after, was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma.
“It was a very tough time because my children are young and they need me. I don’t have a lot and I needed to find ways to keep the family fed,” Che Wan shared openly.
Miraculously, with the pertinent cancer treatment at a government hospital, she showed signs of recovery. “I really felt like I was given new life and new hope to live,” she said.
High On Hope
With fresh motivation, the idea of making ice cream to sell sparked. “My children love ice cream and it is not difficult to make,” she said. “They gave me all kinds of ideas on what flavours to start with. We decided on choki choki and Oreo ice cream,” she said.
“My customers really liked it and other children in my neighbourhood found out about it. They would come to my place to buy. It was such a hit!” she laughs.
She made about 200 sticks per week and started building a regular customer base. But she was careful not to overload. Che Wan still had to juggle home responsibilities and ensure that her health was intact.
Nonetheless, she was constantly thinking how to make more money because the newfound income of RM300 per month was not sufficient to sustain the family.
Ingenuity Meets Intervention
She came across Program empowerNCER at Kuala Muda district which is funded by Yayasan PETRONAS under its Program MEKAR (Memampankan Ekonomi Asas Rakyat) initiative. This is an entrepreneurship training program specifically designed for B40 communities to give them a hand up. She knew this was what she needed to gain practical skills and training to scale her small ice cream business.
“The training gave me an opportunity to think big and envision growth in my business. I started getting creative with my ice cream flavours,” Che Wan said of the program funded by Yayasan PETRONAS.
Today, she sells over fifteen ice cream flavours. When asked about the signature flavours, she said, “Vanilla Choki, Oreo, Strawberry Fizz, Mango Fizz and Kiwi Fizz are my best sellers.”
She also takes orders for customised flavours. “Sometimes my customers tell me what flavours they want and I try to match their expectations and make it specifically for them,” she said.
From 500 to 700 sticks of ice cream per week her income has multiplied almost five fold, making approximately RM1,400 per month. She is supplying ice cream to local shops near her home and has also hired an agent to expand her reach.
Che Wan is unbeatable and has her hopes set on growing her business. “After this pandemic is over, I want to sell ice cream in jars and I know people will love it!”
Her fight for life is infectious and Program MEKAR has played a role in fuelling her dream. Do you know anyone who shares the same fight for life and can benefit from a hand up? Share your stories with us because we all need a bit of inspiration from time to time.