KUALA TERENGGANU – A spa business owner, Zaliha Abu Bakar, was heart-broken when she was forced to close her shop for three months last year following implementation of the Movement Control Oder due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With no income, she was struggling to meet ends met, especially in having to fork out funds for the shop’s rental and utility bills. It pained her more when thinking about her four employees as she did not have the resources to pay their salary.
However, the single mother of four children breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced various assistance, including the Wage Subsidy Program (PSU) and the Prihatin Special Grant (GKP), to alleviate the burden of the business community affected by the pandemic.
“I think I was the first person to apply for the PSU after it was announced last year. So, my workers were able to get through life when the spa was closed. I applied again when the MCO was imposed the second time during which my spa was closed for a month last January,” she said when met at Warisan Spa near Wakaf Beruas here.
The Wakaf Beruas branch Warisan Spa is one of the spa brand chain owned by Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Bhd (Angkasa) and Zaliha has been managing the spa since the past three years through her company, Goheaz Beauty and Spa, which is a member of the Koperasi Kecantikan dan Spa Terengganu Berhad (KOSPA).
Zaliha, who has been involved in the spa and beauty industry since graduating from secondary school, also received RM3,000 assistance through the GPK programme and an interest -free loan of RM5,000 from the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) under its Business Strengthening Facility Financing Scheme (SPAK) in July last year.
“The financial aid helps me to cover the cost of starting my business again, such as for purchase of the necessary spa items, as most of the stock I had were already expired, having not used them when the shop was closed for three months,” she said.
Zaliha said she was also lucky to have received 120 vouchers, worth RM30 each, from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) to be given to customers at all spas and foot massage centres under the Malaysian Spa Association (AMSPA) and the Malaysian Health and Spa Association ( MAWSPA) through the Safe2Spa Jom Spa Campaign.
“I received the vouchers in March last year which were worth RM3,600. Apart from that, Angkasa also gave me 150 vouchers worth RM20. Angkasa aso provided a free course on operating a spa in accordance with the SOPs (standard operating procedures) to curb the spread of COVID-19 .
“Not only that, I also got an infrared sauna machine from Angkasa last February,” she added.
With all the assistance she had received and despite the fight against COVID-19 not over, Zaliha’s spa business continues to propers and she was able to open two more Warisan Spa branches, one at a resort in Kuala Berang in March this year and another, in Chendering, last month.
Having gone through the ups and downs in business, her advice to other entrepreneurs is to never give up.
“Make the best use of the benefits and assistance provided by the government,” she said, adding that the notion that the process involved in applying for the government’s assistance is complicated because of the bureaucratic red-tapes is not true.
“The process of getting help is not difficult. What is important it to look for the right assistance and programme. Of course, it is necessary to enclose the application with the relevant documents. Nothing comes rolling, we have to work for it.
“The assistance provided by the government is for us, so we have to take advantage of it,” she added.