SINGAPORE: Aspiring hawkers can now get a taste of the hawker trade before setting up their own stalls, with an "incubation stall" programme launched by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (Feb 23).
Pre-fitted with basic equipment such as a freezers and sinks, the incubation stalls serve to reduce the capital investment required to start a hawker stall.
Successful applicants will be offered the stalls at 50 per cent of the assessed market rent for a six-month period.
Currently, the six-month tenure is non-renewable, which means that hawkers will have to go through the normal procedure of submitting a tender, if they want to set up a permanent stall.
In response to queries about whether the hawkers can continue operating in the stall after the six-month period, NEA says it will consider this on a case-by-case basis.
In order to apply for an incubation stall, applicants must have no prior experience in managing or operating a food stall or food shop.
They are also required to have attended either an introductory course on managing a hawker business run by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) or other similar Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses, or be a graduate of business management courses offered in tertiary institutions.
The incubation stall programme is in line with the Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee’s recommendations to sustain the trade and support aspiring hawkers into the industry.
Currently, only three out of 13 incubation stalls in various hawker centres have been taken up, according to NEA.
Speaking at the launch, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor said the programme provides another avenue for aspiring hawkers to join the trade.
"Hawkers are an integral part of Singapore's food and beverage landscape and we must find various means to sustain the trade," said Dr Khor.
Meanwhile, participants say that having an opportunity to learn about the trade and experience being a hawker has helped them to plan for their future.
Ms Tan Pey See, who sells muffins at an incubation stall at ABC Brickwork, is already looking to set up a stall after her six-month stint ends.
"Baking has always been my interest," said Ms Tan.
"I received advice and tips from the organisers on starting my business, such as the presentation of my products and attracting customers, which have been helpful to me," she added.
Another participant Ms Ng Qin Rong, who sells vegetarian rice bowls, said she hoped to show people how healthy eating can be affordable.
"The incubation stall Programme allows me to bring the concept to a hawker centre, while acquiring real knowledge and experience of running a food stall before I decide to run my own," said Ms Ng.