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Yap Sue Yii

Yap Sue Yii founded a social enterprise with her business partner in 2018. Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ), also known as Tailors Community of Malaysia is an accredited social enterprise recognized by the Malaysian government. She identified this community of women when she first started her fashion startup at 19 years old. While running her startup, she sought tailors around the neighbourhood to sew her garments. Soon after, word of mouth spread attracting more women who wanted to get orders from her. Little did she know, these were women who were situated at home because of family commitments, therefore they are unable to commit to a full-time job because of its fixed working hours. Earning any form of income becomes difficult for them.

It was then that Sue Yii found her purpose and life mission. As an entrepreneur, it became apparent to her that the community she hopes to empower has to be sustainable. She discovered how each and every one of them needed assistance; be it financial, educational or skill development. Therefore when creating her business model, she wanted to make sure it included upskilling, self-development programs and also ways for these women to be self-sustaining.

She quickly turned to what she knows best, designing. Instead of designing garments, she created a line of corporate gifts knowing that if more pieces were ordered, that would mean consistent orders and income for the beneficiaries. Slowly, her contribution and effort spoke for themselves when KTJ’s products were seen in magazines, aired on television and shared all over social media.

KTJ has achieved and continues to advocate for its 3 SDG goals, which are Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth & Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To date, KTJ has empowered a community of 196 vulnerable women (including B40, single mothers, refugee women, and disabled women) and given them substantial livelihood through sewing.

I’ve seen and witnessed the hopelessness of a mother when she knows she is unable to fend for herself or her children. Helplessly waiting upon funds or support – but not because she cannot work for it, but because circumstances placed her in a difficult position. Now, with the right opportunity presented to them, we see the commitment, and the greatest reward that we receive is, to see the positive change in their lives. For me, impact is to empower those who feel helpless, and give them the opportunity to uplift themselves from poverty and hardship. Through sewing upskilling and job opportunities, we empower the community of B40 women to earn their own income, directly impacting their lives and their children.

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