KUALA LUMPUR: It was a festive cheer for a group of B40 women who managed to earn a sustainable income making Raya cookies, selling hampers and personal protective equipment despite the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“Being empowered financially with support from non-governmental organisation Women of Will (WOW) proved to be a lifeline due to the dip in sales,” said Noraizah Yahya, head of the Community Kitchen at the Batu Muda People’s Housing Project (PPR).

The women numbering about 20 were able to sell 35,000 cookies and 1,000 hampers, made possible from support by the Community Kitchen project started by WOW, she said in a statement today.

“The women who have picked up marketing skills, are now more independent and creative, able to help their families and set aside some money for savings and education,” she said.

“This not only boosted our confidence to bake cookies and package the hampers in batik fabric wrapped Japanese Furoshiki-style, but we can manage the project independently on a continuous income platform,” she said of the project supported by Edra Power Holdings Sdn Bhd.

She said WOW’s initiative has complemented the government’s continuing commitment to help B40 women whose livelihood was perhaps the most affected by the pandemic.

Noraizah said by working as a group and teaming up with PPR Lembah Subang’s Community Sewing Centre, “we were able to chalk up higher earnings as opposed to selling cookies single-handedly as WOW was able to reskill us, teach us new baking and hamper packaging skills as well as new recipes.”

Inspired by WOW’s Community Kitchen, a participant, Norshuhadah Nasaruddin, expressed the hope it would be extended to a larger B40 community and underprivileged women as they would be able to support their children and communities during the MCO.

She said the lockdown, which restricted people’s movements, was a blessing in disguise as it led to almost unending orders for Raya cookies compared with last year.

“My confidence to earn a sustainable income is much higher now due to the opportunity given to me compared with many B40 women who don’t have a stable income under the current difficult circumstances,” she said.

Lakshwin Muruga, WOW’s chief operating officer, said the community kitchen and sewing centres helped women with zero income initially to sew personal protective equipment (PPE) and earn some money during the pandemic.

“We look forward to operating the kitchen at 100 per cent maximum capacity including morning and night shifts and help women and their families in underprivileged communities,” she said.

Jennifer Aleeya Wong, vice-president of group corporate affairs at Edra, said the power company, which has been helping underprivileged women the past five years, was committed to continue supporting B40 women when the pandemic hit last year. -Bernama