SINGAPORE: Aspiring hawkers will be given more support by the National Environment Agency (NEA) through a new programme and an enhanced incubation scheme, announced Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor on Monday (Sep 30).
This is part of NEA's efforts to support and sustain the hawker trade.
The Hawkers’ Development Programme, available to aspiring and existing hawkers, is a three-stage programme which offers classes to hawkers in practical areas.
The first stage will have certified trainers teaching classes on cooking skills, menu design, pricing strategy, stall layout and social media marketing, with support from SkillsFuture Singapore. It will be available to existing and aspiring hawkers.
The second and third stages, which are only open to aspiring hawkers, will offer a mentorship programme with veteran hawkers, and an opportunity to join NEA’s Incubation Stall Programme (ISP).
The ISP was introduced last year to allow aspiring hawkers to learn the ropes and test out business plans in a practical setting.
Dr Khor added that NEA will be looking into providing subsidies for the Hawkers' Development Programme to make classes more affordable for hawkers.
Ten veteran hawkers have signed up to be mentors with the Hawkers' Development Programme, which will be rolled out at the end of this year, she said.
Madam Hajjah Roziah, 59, who runs Nur Indah’s Kitchen at New Upper Changi Road, was one of the veteran hawkers who volunteered to mentor aspiring hawkers.
She explained that it was important for young hawkers to have mentorship and practical experience in a stall so that they would know “all the things that (they) would have to face”.
“We will assist them from scratch, from the ingredients, from the recipe, menu and how to flip prata, if (they are running a) prata stall. Then they must know what is the pricing, what is the costing, what (is) the equipment they need to set up when they want to start their business,” she said.
The Hawkers’ Development Programme was put in place after receiving feedback from a hawker workgroup that was set up earlier this year, said Dr Khor.
INCUBATIONAL STALL PROGRAMME ENHANCEMENTS
Dr Khor also announced two enhancements to the ISP.
In March 2019, NEA extended the 50 per cent rental rebate for hawker stalls under its ISP from six months to nine months to provide incubation stallholders with more time to establish their businesses.
To provide greater support, NEA will be providing these stallholders with an additional six months of 25 per cent rental rebate.
“This actually means an effective rental rebate of 40 per cent over the 15-month period, and this, we believe, will help to strengthen our support for the ISP stallholders as they stabilise their businesses and transit to a permanent stall,” said Dr Khor.
Additionally, incubation stall owners will now be able to convert their incubation stall to a permanent stall directly, at the location they are operating from.
“This is to better support these new entrants as they would have established their local clientele at the particular stall/centre that they are operating from,” said NEA in a press release.
Two of 20 successful incubation stall applicants have indicated their interest to convert their incubation stalls to permanent stalls, said Dr Khor.
Madam Michelle Yee, 35, who runs the Hakka Hamcha and Yong Tou Fu stall at Smith Street, is one of the incubation stall applicants who will be converting to a permanent stall from Jan 1 next year.
She joined the incubation programme in April last year, she said, as she and her husband were tired of their jobs.
“(We thought), why don’t we create something that belongs to ourselves?” she said.
They decided to make their foray into the food and beverage business, and settled on a hawker stall as the smallest way to start.
She said that the incubation programme has helped her with “investment costs”, and that she has “saved a lot (with) the rental subsidy”.
“We learned about how to control our cost through the course organised by ITE (Institute of Technical Education), how to do the set-up, search for our supplies," she added.
"What NEA has done is really above our expectations."
These developments were announced at the inaugural Hawkers' Seminar, organised by the Federation of Merchants' Association, where 27 hawkers received awards in three categories - Hawker Mentors Appreciation Award, Promising New Hawker Award and the Productive Hawker Centre Appreciation Award.