AWAEANG KWASIN fondly known as Awin is a local entrepreneur and founder of ‘Nang Ori’ pepper based products who strongly believes that anyone can rise and succeed in life.
“And whatever blessings and good things you have, there will be blessings for others,” said the 45-year-old mother of five, who has trained about 4,000 Nang Ori agents and product distributors nationwide and helped about 50 others when registering your online business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).
Awin hails from Kampung Bratan, Jalan Punkak Borneo, about 24 kilometers from Kuching. She rose from humble beginnings and grew up in a family of farmers.
She could vividly remember the days when she and her siblings toiled under the sun harvesting the pepper crop and helping her parents sell vegetables and jungle produce door to door and at the old Satok weekend market.
Awin is the first Bidayuh, perhaps even the first Dayak woman, to be licensed by the Malaysian Pepper Board to sell and export Sarawak pepper and products to the international market.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia graduate foresees the potential to become an entrepreneur as she believes entrepreneurship is the key to global economic recovery.
Sharing her experiences in a male-dominated industry, she firmly stands by her belief that everyone has an equal opportunity to excel and follow the path they choose, as long as they work hard for it.
“Women and the younger generation, in particular, should take advantage of opportunities to venture into entrepreneurship. With the Youth Entrepreneur Setup (YES) program approved by the state government, this initiative is something not to be missed.
“Start small and most importantly – seek knowledge and skills. Never stop learning and don’t be afraid to fail because we all learn from our failures.”
With the onset of Covid-19 and the implementation of the Traffic Control Order (MCO) in early 2020, Avin admitted that her business, as well as other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the country, had been badly affected.
“Previously, consumers used to buy our products from the supermarkets, while our agents and distributors came to our store to get their stock. After the announcement of the MCO, the opening hours of the supermarkets were reduced and only a limited number of people were allowed inside the premises to buy essentials and this adversely affected our sales,” she recalled.
The imposed traffic restriction and road blockades have prevented agents from obtaining shares, and the order to close non-essential business premises and factories has caused numerous losses and unprecedented disruption to normal daily activities, she added.
The rapid spread of technology, accelerated by the pandemic, has led to an urgent need for businesses to adapt and evolve, and this has led Auin to rethink its business strategy.
To meet these challenges, she embraces technology and equips herself and her teams to be digitally empowered.
“We participated in a virtual exhibition platform during the pandemic held by the Malaysian Foreign Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and several other non-governmental organizations and this helped to promote Nang Ori’s product range and increase sales to new customers and a wider audience.
“We are grateful that our products have remained competitive during the pandemic and in fact our downstream health products such as pepper gel, pepper oil, coffee and pepper tea have been very popular during the said period,” she noted.
“Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) and Sarawak Economic Development (SEDC) also provided free rentals to ease our burden during the pandemic, and with the help of Mara, Nang Ori products were able to break into a new market segment, under Malaysia-made vendor program at AEON supermarkets across Malaysia,” she said.
Since then (2018), Awin has been helping new local entrepreneurs to promote and sell their products in local supermarkets.
Achievements and honors
In 2019, Nang Ori won two awards namely “Malaysia Top Achievers” and “Malaysia Good Design Award” from Malaysia Design Council.
In 2020, Awin was selected as the winner of the Proactive and Creative Entrepreneur Award at the Domestic Trade Awards Night in Kuala Lumpur.
Other accolades include the New SME Award from Lotus Malaysia, SME Vendor Hypermarket AEON and the credentials to be a speaker and entrepreneurship consultant for Mara, as well as a guest speaker on panels for programs of the Ministry of Education, Sarawak Polytechnics, SME Corp, Koperasi Malaysia , Mara and several other NGOs.
Awin was also presented with the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award by Mara Sarawak during the Sarawak Southern Zone Entrepreneur Appreciation Ceremony held at the State Legislative Assembly Dining Room on June 30 this year.
Citing Nang Ori’s core focus of building brand loyalty and generating online sales through full use of social media platforms, Awin hopes to expand its business globally while ensuring its products continue to grow in the local market.
She counts herself blessed that her venture has paid off despite all the obstacles and vows to continue enriching the lives of others.
“The blessings given to us should be shared with everyone,” she said, sticking to her principle of sharing her blessings with others.