How did the MCO affect Masala Wheels?
When the MCO was announced on March 18, we weren't prepared. Before we could process the reality of shutting down our physical outlet in Petaling Jaya, we received our first request for sponsored meals. There were stranded students in Klang Valley and they required meals for a week. So we decided to post a request for 240 meals on our Facebook page. In less than 30 minutes, we secured sponsors and more came forward later. Thus began the journey of #FoodWithoutBorders and to date, we have distributed 26,054 meals and 397 provisions with 576 single point deliveries.
What was the scariest moment for you during the lockdown?
We lost almost 90 per cent and 70 per cent of our shop and catering revenues respectively. Not being able to continue sustaining our beneficiaries has been our greatest fear, as many at-risk youths are dependent on us for their livelihoods.
Tell us your biggest takeaways from the Covid-19 crisis.
Be prepared to pivot. Act fast. Even if it fails, learn and adapt to circumstances quickly. Time is of essence.
What will you do differently in the future?
The pandemic has definitely hit us badly, as we operate a restaurant as one of the revenue streams to sustain our social enterprise. Everything we do after this crisis will be with a strong focus on building a more resilient model that shapes the transition to a new normal.
Any exciting plans Masala Wheels in 2021?
Absolutely! We're currently working on a "Hybrid Cloud Kitchen" model intertwined with elements of IR4 and social impact. We're planning to roll this out in January 2021. To further reduce the digital divide among B40 communities, we're working on a simplified marketplace to profile their economic initiatives for ease of access to businesses and customers.
Are you looking forward to any rest this year-end?
I go on a yearly retreat to the Himalayan region to reflect and recharge; last year being was Nepal and the year before, India. With travel restrictions and the need to re-strategise our social enterprise, I'll be busy focussing on our plans in 2021 with the directors.
We'll continue with our food aid distribution efforts and our micro-entrepreneurship digitalisation programme with B40 communities through Yayasan Hasanah throughout year-end. Personally, spending time with fellow changemakers who are also passionate about responding to the current issues we're facing is already a rejuvenation to the soul.