Single Mum of 5 Loses Only Source of Income After Restrictions Placed on Home-based Businesses
She also used to work as a Grab driver at night when her kids were asleep to supplement her income.
Nurseriwaty “Sery” Rahim, 37, had been relying on her home-based baking business as her main source of income for the last eight years. Restrictions on Home-based Businesses
That is, until it all came to an abrupt halt with recent circuit breaker tightening measures.
The single mum lives with her five children in a 2-room rental flat, which also doubles up as her workplace. From her kitchen, she churns out goodies ranging from cookies to elaborately decorated cakes.
The Hari Raya period is an especially busy time for her, when she can produce up to 150 bottles of cookies and other confections, but production has since been curtailed.
Circuit Breaker Restrictions on Home-based Businesses
On Saturday (April 25), a joint statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Housing and Development Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority stated that home-based business (HBB) operators cannot leave their homes to operate their businesses.
Customers or third-party delivery services are also not allowed to collect or deliver the goods from their residences. Those who flout the ruling may face a fine of $1,000.
The announcement left many owners of home-based F&B businesses like Sery in shock and despair.
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Said Sery, the owner of home-based bakery Violet Frost: “As a single mum to five kids, one of them with special needs, [baking] has been my main source of income for the last eight years.”
Her younger son, who is 10, was born with a severe form of spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the spinal cord which has left him unable to wash or clean up after himself independently.
Sery shared that she used to work as a Grab driver at night when her kids were asleep to supplement her income, but with the circuit breaker measures shutting down entertainment venues and restricting movement, it was no longer a lucrative option.
The home baker was among several who were invited on a Facebook Live session hosted by prominent Malay vlogger, Sujimy Mohamad on Monday night (April 27).
The session had come about after 30-year-old actress-turned-influencer Ateeqah Mazlan was accused of snitching on operators of home-based businesses to authorities, which many suspect had led to the clampdown.
Sery was in tears during the Live interview with Sujimy, but mainly due to the messages of support directed at her during the session.
She shared: “Munira (another business owner included in the livestream) said her first thought when HBB had to be ceased was, ‘how is Sery doing?’, and that touched all of us — I couldn’t help but break down.”
However, Sery told AsiaOne that she bears no resentment towards Ateeqah.
“I had nothing against Ateeqah as I understood her message. I was more concerned about other screenshots that were confusing. What was in her video (explaining that HBB essentially could not operate), I already knew from all the commotion,” said Sery.
What Sery hopes for now is that the restrictions against home-based bakers like herself could be lifted before Hari Raya, so that she can still fulfil the orders that have been made.
The sole breadwinner of the family shared that she has already refunded customers close to $1,000 for their birthday and celebratory cake orders that she is now unable to fulfil.
While some of the dry ingredients she had prepared for the Hari Raya goodies can be kept till she can operate again, she’s had to sell off some of the eggs she’d bought.
Sery has applied for and received the Temporary Relief Fund for those who have lost their jobs and has also applied for ComCare subsidies.
In the meantime, Sery is staying positive: “I am grateful that I am able to take this time to focus on my kids’ home-based learning, and take the time to reflect. Ramadan is a beautiful month to do that.”
A petition that was started on Change.org calling for authorities to “revise their approach to handling home-based businesses in light of the pandemic situation” has so far garnered more than 70,000 signatures — close to the 75,000 target set.
Meanwhile, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (April 29) that he understands home-based operators’ frustrations and that help is available for those who need it.
He shared that free legal support is available to HBB owners who cannot fulfil orders made and cannot come to an agreement with their customers.
However, his comments came after his Facebook post earlier this week criticised those who are “trying to incite our home-based business operators to pressure the Government to make exceptions” for them.
But there’s hope yet for home-based F&B operators as Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Monday that the rules governing home-based food operators during this circuit breaker period could be eased if community transmission numbers are brought down.
This post was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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