Pineapples Were This Sabahan Group’s Last Resort For Food, Now They're Its Main Income
Most Malaysians are from third or fourth generation immigrant families, and to hear about any of us being stateless after our families have been here for so long sounds almost impossible.
However, this isn’t the case for some third or fourth generation children who are born in Sabah, including indigenous peoples, according to UNHCR.
“There are millions in Sabah who are unfortunately stateless. Our beneficiaries carry this burden from their ancestors who failed to register their birth with the Malaysian National Registration Department,” shared Raudhah Nazran, CEO of Accelerate Global, with Vulcan Post.
This is where the social enterprise steps in to tackle youth unemployment, especially for those who are underprivileged and marginalised, through upskilling programmes to help them become entrepreneurs.
Opportunity Through A Pineapple Farm
A person who is stateless is denied citizenship, which in return denies them access to healthcare, education, and of course, limits their travels.
When Raudhah and the Accelerate team learnt about statelessness in Sabah, they were looking into the residents of Kampung Saga 1, Sepanggar, which is just a 5-minute drive from Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
This village is near a mangrove area, where the houses are built right in the mangrove swamps.
The mangrove area where the community resides / Image Credit: Nanaslab
“It devastated me to see high-rise buildings and luxurious living around the area when there are literally people struggling to even feed themselves and their family just around the corner,” Raudhah shared.
Fortunately, the soil of the mangrove area they’re in was also suitable for growing pineapples, which was how they started their pineapple farm to feed themselves whenever they ran out of funds.
Inside the learning hut Accelerate built for the community / Image Credit: Nanaslab
Showing The Entrepreneurial Ropes
Before Accelerate scouted them, the community had no entrepreneurship knowledge and didn’t think of starting a business to generate income.
Hence, the Accelerate team trained 43 youth in the community through a 4-month long programme divided into 4 phases, which was the beginning of Nanaslab.
The first phase, Personal Growth is to help them build confidence and motivation, encouraging them to dream again, especially since they are working with some beneficiaries who have lost hope in life.
“Some of them were cheated or lied to whereas some faced trauma due to family members getting caught by the authorities,” Raudhah shared.
The other phases help them understand the basics of financials, the concept of entrepreneurship, pricing and marketing, and finally, pineapple jam-making.
Pineapple jam was chosen as the first product of many to make because it takes up the minimal costs with their existing resources.
Working together to make these pineapple jams / Image Credit: Nanaslab
The Path To Business Independence
Across all of Accelerate’s entrepreneurship programmes, their beneficiaries will go through a 2-month business incubation after they‘ve graduated from the programme.
Before they can fully take over the business though, they will first go through a shadowing program with the Accelerate team to better learn how to manage orders, postage and deliveries.
In this case, the Accelerate team also works together with the beneficiaries to manage orders in West Malaysia while enhancing their social media skills, all in the first month.
In the second month, the beneficiaries will take over the business fully and the Accelerate team will just observe and provide final feedback before transferring the whole operations to them.
As of now, the beneficiaries are divided into 6 groups for 6 steps of the jam-making process: prepping the pineapple, cooking the jams, incorporating preservatives, packaging and labelling, deliveries, and quality control.
Pak Muhyiddin, who is the head of the village, is currently leading the quality control team.
As they’re reducing cost as much as possible now, the Nanaslab team only makes the jams when they receive orders to avoid wastage.
“Capital to start the business was given by Accelerate Global and profits are split evenly to everyone for the first batch of pineapple jam, given that everyone invested the same amount of time and energy,” Raudhah shared.
Their pineapple jams at priced at RM20 for 180ml, excluding postage. To date, Nanaslab managed to sell close to 100 jars of pineapple jams already.
The end product / Image Credit: Nanaslab
Not Letting Statelessness Define Their Lives
“Having experienced discrimination and slander due to them being stateless, they hope this business can be a symbol of strength and determination to create change no matter the circumstances,” Raudhah shared the community’s hopes.
“They hope to show to the world that they too can succeed despite being denied access to education and employment, and that this business of theirs can change the narrative of their lives.”
As for the Accelerate team, they hope this community can become more self-sustainable and use these entrepreneurial skills to their best advantage at times of adversity.