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Normah’s Recipe For Success: From RM500 to RM19k In Three Months With Dapur Digital 

In a modest kitchen located at PPR (People’s Housing Project) Gombak Setia, Normah Tekah, a single mother, skillfully prepares delicious meals to satisfy the demands of her customers. As the aroma of sliced onions and spices wafts from her trusty iron wok, Normah not only fulfills her customers’ cravings but also provides for her family, which includes her two school-going children.

Source: Normah’s personal archive

One of my children is in college now, one is in secondary school and the other is in primary school. Expenses are increasing today. – Normah Tekah, microentrepreneur 

Normah is among the one million micro, small and medium enterprises in Malaysia. While micro-enterprises serve as a ray of hope and the main source of income for many households, nearly 78% of them earn an annual income of less than RM 300,000[1].

Through social media, Normah discovered Dapur Digital. Intrigued by their offerings, she promptly registered with them and enthusiastically participated in their workshops, eager to learn and seize new opportunities to enhance her income.

Guiding Micro-Entrepreneurs To Greater Success

Normah signed up for Dapur Digital 2022 by Pepper Labs, the people behind the culinary success of Masala Wheels, a food-truck-turned-social enterprise. This is one of the 132 programmes supported by Yayasan Hasanah in 2022.

The inspiration for this initiative came from Kuhan Pathy, co-founder of Pepper Labs, who recognized the need to upskill micro-entrepreneurs like Normah, especially considering the impact of the pandemic, which led to the closure of approximately 28,000 microenterprises[1].

We realise that it’s time for us to step out from Pepper Labs and help other micro-enterprises to digitalise and improve their business development. – Kuhan Pathy, Pepper Labs co-founder[1]

Normah found the program’s two-day training highly beneficial, as it provided her with valuable knowledge to take her business to the next level. 

The workshops taught us about marketing, costing and pricing. I learned a lot about running a business. Before this, all this knowledge was foreign to me. – Normah Tekah, microentrepreneur 

Out of the 40 participants who attended the workshops, including Normah, 30 individuals were selected for further training. This extended training involved guided mentoring and the distribution of kitchen equipment to help them expand their businesses.

We actually gave them a three-month contract and this contract had attachments to corporations and to civil societies. Kuhan Pathy, Pepper Labs co-founder[1]

The program adopted a home-based cloud kitchen concept, where each entrepreneur was assigned to cater or cook for a selected number of households.

They [Pepper Labs] brought together micro-entrepreneurs, into their cloud kitchen, which allowed the microentrepreneurs to produce larger amounts of food and to reach corporate clients; their income increased at a much higher rate than running their business on their own from their homes. – Anita Ahmad, Yayasan Hasanah, Head of Community Development[1] 

Impressive Growth Within A Short Timeframe

Throughout this programme, we’ve seen income growth ranging from 77% to 500% Kuhan Pathy, Pepper Labs co-founder[1]

Within three months, the participating micro-entrepreneurs had shown stellar progress. Among the transformational stories was that of Normah Tekah. Normah’s income skyrocketed from RM500 to RM19,820 within three months (an average increase of 1,221%). 

Source: Normah’s personal archive

During the three months, I worked on other projects too. There were two days when I received a large number of orders. Cooking lunch for an office was one of them. That month, my income jumped to RM10,000. – Normah Tekah, microentrepreneur 

Normah’s journey not only brought her financial stability but also made her a role model for others. At the closing ceremony of Dapur Digital held at Masala Wheels, she was presented with a certificate, an honour that she found both exciting and nerve-wrecking. 

I felt like, “alamak, (oh no)”! Can I walk up the stage to receive the certificate – in front of a large audience? – Normah Tekah, microentrepreneur 

The budding entrepreneur attributes her success to a combination of God-send rezeki (blessings) and her sheer determination to find alternative side incomes through fulfilling orders from interested clients. 

Source: Normah’s personal archive

Stepping Out Of Her Comfort Zone 

Normah’s remarkable success with Dapur Digital has sparked a newfound spirit and confidence within her. Building upon her recent achievements, she now enjoys a steady monthly income ranging from RM4,000 to RM5,000.

Inspired by her progress, Normah took a bold step and opened a stall in Kuala Lumpur, where she sells her specialty, masakan panas. Additionally, she is in the process of opening another stall that will feature a menu of ice-blended drinks and fried chicken. 

Source: Normah’s personal archive

Venturing beyond her home-based business presents its challenges, but Normah is grateful for the unwavering support she receives from the mentors she connected with through Dapur Digital.

I am grateful that I have mentors who support me. When I’m down, these mentors will give me advice on how to boost my business. I am glad that the mentors are there to back us, budding micro-entrepreneurs and give us words of encouragement to move forward and do better. – Normah Tekah, microentrepreneur 

Behind her sweet smile lies an incredible amount of resilience and determination. Normah acknowledges that challenges will inevitably arise, but as a mother, her relentless drive to secure a better future for her children propels her forward.

With Pepper Labs and Yayasan Hasanah placing their trust in home-based chefs, individuals like Normah, who excel in their culinary endeavours, are poised to thrive. The ongoing support and backing from these organisations create an environment where home-based chefs can work, care for their families and achieve success.

Since its inception in 2015, Yayasan Hasanah has catalysed over 470 partners across over 600 on-ground programmes around Malaysia. Cumulatively, this has impacted over 2.4 million people across all layers of society, including women, youth, indigenous communities, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and refugees, amongst others. Hasanah’s impacts are in education access and equity, poverty eradication and community empowerment, environmental conservation and sustainability, policy and research, and the upliftment of our arts and cultural heritage

Explore the intersection of justice, philanthropy, and impact investing at The Hasanah Forum, or THF, the social impact conference organised by Yayasan Hasanah. Sign up for the free virtual conference at, held in conjunction with the Asia Venture Philanthropy Conference (, an international event happening in Malaysia co-hosted by Hasanah 20-22 June 2023.


  1. The Hasanah Report. (2023). Cloud Kitchens Boosting Microentrepreneurs’ Income. Link

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