Saturday, June 6

Making a difference for women and community

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Serawa (seated centre) and the newly-elected office bearers.

THE Women Entrepreneurs and Professional Association Sarawak (WEPS) aspires to be a forerunner in developing entrepreneurial skills among women while striving to make a difference for its members and the community at large.

Among its main goals are promoting women’s entrepreneurial development through networking, education and training, as well as improving their social and psychological well-being.

The non-governmental association (NGO) aims to be a significant women’s organisation, bringing members to the forefront of state and national development.

It is committed to creating confident and self-reliant women entrepreneurs and professionals and to promoting a harmonious society in collaboration with the government and like-minded organisations in the country and beyond.

WEPS was set up in 1996 and after 24 years, will continue striving to remain relevant, according to newly-elected president Serawa Budol.

“We aspire to be the forerunner in developing entrepreneurship skills among women. At the same time, we’ll strive to make a difference for our members and the community at large,” she stressed.

Serawa, the general manager of Miri Port Authority (MPA), was elected the new president at WEPS’ Biennial Delegates Conference and eighth Biennial General Conference on March 8, 2020. She succeeds Dr Loh Yunn Hua.

Serawa (seated centre) and Loh (seated right) with other WEPS members.

Goals for 2020

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the new team has yet to meet to discuss the proposed activities over a two-year term (2020-21).

However, Serawa assured the programmes would be implemented not only for members but also the community, focusing on entrepreneurship and relevant issues, including Covid-19.

She said donations of food items on April 2 to front-liners treating Covid-19 patients  at Miri Hospital, and other essentials to the needy were the association’s first post-officer-bearers election activity.

“During this trying time where every help is needed to support the Movement Control Order (MCO) in fighting Covid 19, we like to contribute, in a small way, by donating food items to the front-liners in appreciation of their courage and selflessness in treating patients and preventing the disease from affecting more people.

“As part of our community service projects, we also support the political and local community leaders in reaching out, especially to the needy, hard hit by the pandemic.”

She assured once the outbreak  was over, WEPS would carry out its planned activities, including a membership recruitment drive, talks on entrepreneurial development and current issues for members and the public, a study tour, and a get-together night for members.

“Our membership now is small — only over 50-strong. We want to reach out to many entrepreneurs and professionals and make WEPS an association of substance, not just numbers, in empowering women. Hopefully, we can have our voices heard and achieve our objectives.”

Serawa also said the association hoped to work with the government at state and federal levels, as well as the corporate sector to promote and advance the roles of women in nation-building.

She encouraged women who are eligible to register as members to participate in the association’s programmes and get their voices heard.

WEPS is open to Malaysian women entrepreneurs and professionals (holding diplomas or degrees), aged 18 and above, and residing in Sarawak.

The fees for annual registration, annual membership, and life membership are RM30, RM60 and RM1,000 respectively.

For enquiries call Serawa at (019-8845808), secretary-general Wendy Tiong (019-8846257), or assistant secretary-general Lorna Morrison (012-6467271).

 

Serawa (second right) hands over food items donated by association members to a representative from Miri Hospital for front-liners treating Covid-19 patients.

Views and recommendations

Immediate past president Loh acknowledged the support and spirit of camaraderie extended to her by the executive committee and members during her two-year tenure (March 2018 to 2020).

“Working with women is not easy even though I’m one myself. There are many opinions, WhatsApp messages and suggestions when a proposal is made. But despite the challenges, our committee had pulled through,” she noted.

She said during her term as president, the association carried out 41 programmes on education, entrepreneurship, networking, and welfare.

WEPS Mothers’ Day Celebration 2019 at Piasau Boat Club.

A recruitment drive and familiarisation visits to two new specialist hospitals in Miri were also organised apart attending the Trade Expo Indonesia from Oct 16-20, 2019, she added.

“We learned a lot about the export potential of Indonesia. I would certainly recommend more of these visits be organised.”

Loh, who is a life member, also recommended a survey be conducted to find out why members joined the association and what their needs are so that more could be done for them.

This could include venturing into sustainable projects like garment exchange and making bags from discarded jeans to support global efforts in making a better world for everyone and the future generations, she suggested.

WEPS members are briefed by specialists on facilities and services offered by private hospital BMC.

Fellow life member Margaret Nyambong agreed that WEPS had been instrumental in keeping her spirits up when she faced problems with her business.

“Since joining WEPS over 10 years ago, the association has been helping me by buying from my orchard,” she added.