Annually, on the 8th of March, women around the world are celebrated for their perseverance in breaking barriers, for rising against the status quo and for their infinite love and care to the less fortunate. This International Women’s Day, we have highlighted nine women in the impact industry empowering other women; through providing means of income or through their fight for equal rights.
Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ) was born out of a moment of operational issues in 2018. Yap Sue Yii was running her first fashion start-up business Royal Demure when the idea came up. With high supplies of materials and lower demands for clothing items in the market, she grabbed the opportunity to establish a social enterprise that provides more job opportunities to women from the B40 communities.
KTJ enables home-based tailors to earn a sustainable income through producing handmade gift items catered for corporate gifts, fashion items and tourist souvenirs. However, it isn’t solely income generation as KTJ also actively trains the tailors to become R&D specialists, instilling a stronger sense of leadership and ownership of their creations.
If we receive large orders of up to 500 pieces, we can help 10 families. This is what inspires us to work harder because if we get an order for corporate gifts, we are not only helping one woman but we are helping 20 households. – Yap Sue Yii, founder of Komuniti Tukang Jahit
However, it has not been always smooth sailing for KTJ. The organisation was often under scrutiny and in competition with established companies in the gifts industry. Their higher price points due to the handmade nature of their items were often questioned.
When the pandemic hit, KTJ struggled at the start, but Sue Yii saw it as an opportunity to reform the fundamentals, especially with most of their tailors at home.
We already face many challenges in the gifts industry, where we have to compete with the big boys and come up with quality products at price points that companies are comfortable with, while also helping the community at the same time. – Yap Sue Yii, founder of Komuniti Tukang Jahit
KTJ currently houses 50 tailors and is set to add more tailors to its network. In the long run, Sue Yii and the tailor hope for more orders from the corporate sector. She remains hopeful as more and more people are receptive to the idea of “impact buying” and are aware of the role of social enterprises in a community.
We are here to empower women. Women who are able to work from home while taking care of their family’s needs. Awareness of social enterprises among both the public and private sectors is crucial for the longevity of the enterprise. – Yap Sue Yii, founder of Komuniti Tukang Jahit
Explore our sources:
- Prestige. Yap Sue Yii. Link
- S.Dayangku. (2020). Enough Talk About Empowering B40 Women, This Startup Already Has A Business Model That Does It. Vulcan Post. Link
- K.D.Souza. (2021).Bantu kami untuk bantu 50 wanita B40 mencari sumber pendapatan. Free Malaysia Today. Link
- KTJ Malaysia. (2020). Glam Mask Raises RM16,000 for a Good Cause. Link
- Business Today. (2020).Empowering women every step of the way. Link