KUALA LUMPUR, 7 August 2020 — Yayasan PETRONAS today announced its initiative to assist 3,400 B40 or low income families in targeted districts across Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu through the foundation’s Sentuhan Harapan – Program MEKAR (Memampankan Ekonomi Asas Rakyat).
The programme, which is being rolled out in phases over a period of 24 months, aims to address poverty at the grassroots with the provision of basic needs such as water, electricity and food. It also provides skills training to improve the B40 communities’ living standards and income stream.
Commenting on the initiative, Chief Executive Officer of Yayasan PETRONAS, Lita Osman, said: “We believe socioeconomic progress is inclusive and all Malaysians should experience a better quality of life.
“Efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment require a long-term commitment. We are taking this opportunity to invest in resources for at least two years to ensure sustainable economic growth amongst the communities in these targeted districts.
“Through Program MEKAR, we want to create an equitable society and narrow the income gap as Malaysia progresses into a high-income developed nation. Hand-in-hand, we can flourish,” she said.
Yayasan PETRONAS had first collaborated with the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) to kick off empowerNCER – Program MEKAR in Kedah in November 2019. To date, the initiative has seen targeted beneficiaries in the State recording significant income improvements, with some earning 10 times more than previously.
One of the beneficiaries, Norhazima Abdul Jalil, 34, from Pendang, said: “Previously, I stayed home and earned about RM500 a month selling food, in addition to helping my husband work at a rubber plantation. I took the courage to participate in the skills and entrepreneurship training offered via empowerNCER – Program MEKAR funded by Yayasan PETRONAS.
“Today, I own a stall selling various types of noodles and earn 12 times more than my previous income. I have a steady income to support my family, and I am able to help other women in my community,” added Norhazima.
A previously unemployed beneficiary, Ubal Kulim, 33, from Baling, had also benefited from participating in the skills and entrepreneurship training programme offered via empowerNCER-Program (MEKAR). Now, he is successfully running a burger stall with a monthly income of RM1,500, which is four times more than what he earned before, enabling him to assist other poor families in his community.
Through Program MEKAR, Yayasan PETRONAS aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being, as well as promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for Malaysians, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 8 as well as PETRONAS’ Sustainability Agenda.
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