From Engineering To Baking: A Young Entrepreneur’s Story

Last update: 03/11/2014

By Murni Nasri


JOHOR BAHARU, Nov 3 (Bernama) -- Stories about young professionals taking an about turn in their careers to venture into business are so common now but never cease to inspire readers.


It was because of this that the writer took the opportunity to attend the ‘Produk Anak Johor Fest’, a venue provided to Small and Medium entrepreneurs registered under the Federal Agricultural and Marketing Authority (FAMA) and online vendors to showcase their products to a wider clientele.


The event, organised by Time Line Creative and supported by the Johor State Committee of Tourism, Trade and Consumers Affairs was held at Persada Convention Centre from Oct 25 to Oct 26, 2014.


Eighty young entrepreneurs from all over Johor convened under one roof selling products ranging from homemade pies, cookies, sauces, juices as well as vintage clothing lines, T-shirts, Muslim robes (abaya), shawls, bags and accessories.


It was at this two-day event, officiated by the Chairman of Education, Information, Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Committee Md Jais Sarday on Saturday Oct 25 that the writer met an enterprising lady promoting a range of her homemade cookies.


Azne’s Bakery


Azne Omar, 33, is the proud owner of Azne’s Bakery, a promising outlet selling a whole range of dropped cookies for hampers and gifts.


“My business is registered under FAMA and I am one of the vendors chosen by the body to promote my products.


“According to FAMA, they only send entrepreneurs under 40 years old for this event,” said Azne who holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Batu Pahat.


Azne is actively going for business courses to strengthen her knowledge in running her bakery, which she opened with the support of her husband and family about a year ago.


“I have always loved baking since I was in school. My mother, who was a nurse, loved going for classes, so it was from her that I learnt to make cookies,” she told Bernama’s Lifestyle and Youth recently.


Encouraging Start


The mother of two started her first business in baking and selling chocolate moist cake with the seed money of RM300 she received from her mother when she was just 17.


Her first attempt received overwhelming response from her mother’s friends.


“It was during Hari Raya, so business was really good.


“Then I went to UTHM to further my studies but I still baked on a part time basis and the customers were my uni friends and their families,” Azne said.


After receiving a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the university, Azne, who was born in Kedah, went to work at an engineering company in Kedah.


She moved to Johor a year later after marrying her university senior, who hails from the southern state.


Time With Family


“When we moved to Johor, I went to work with a different company and suddenly life became stressful especially after I had my son. I felt I didn’t have much quality time for him,” Azne shared.


It was her husband that suggested she venture into business.


After giving it much thought, Azne decided to bank on her baking skills and opened a bakery at Taman Tampoi Indah in July 2013.


“Now I have more time to spend with my two children. I choose my own time, I can send my children to school, I can feed them with my own hands and I can teach them to read,” said Azne, who has no regrets leaving her job.


Azne’s Bakery now supplies Chocolate Lava, Royal Black Munch, Red Velvet, Black Choc Chip cookies to cafes at Hospital Sultan Ismail, Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Universiti Teknologi MARA’s marts and restaurants around the Skudai area.


Obstacles


Leaving her job at a Japanese company in Johor Baharu was not so difficult for Azne. She didn’t think twice and has never looked back ever since.


“When we moved here from Kedah, my husband wanted me to just stay at home and care for the family, but I refused because I really wanted to work,” she said.


Azne said her husband, Muaz Ariffin Ahmad, 36, was the real businessman for during his younger days, he ventured into several businesses with his friends but none succeeded.


Unlike many other young entrepreneurs, Azne and her husband took the plunge into opening the bakery business without any business knowledge and as a result, they faced overwhelming obstacles in establishing their business.


The sales for their cookies were inconsistent from one month to another and they found it difficult to survive.


Future Plans


All the wiser now, the soft-spoken owner of Azne’s Bakery had registered her business with bodies that support small businesses such as FAMA, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), the Johor Economic Planning Unit, the Entrepreneur Development Corporation (EDC) and the Department of Agriculture, among others.


“There are many courses that I can attend to widen my business knowledge. They teach you to understand your business and to develop your products,” explained Azne when asked about the benefits of being registered with these bodies.


Attending courses not only widen her business knowledge, it is also a good way to network with other small business owners, said Azne.


“Putting the knowledge immediately into practice prevents more headaches from ‘hitting the wall,” she said.


When asked about what’s next for Azne’s Bakery, Azne said: “Apply Halal certification and go abroad. Not easy because we have to follow strict procedures, we have to upgrade and improve our bakery in order to get the certification, but it must be done, if we want to go further.”


Azne’s Bakery will also launch “Habbatus Sauda” (fennel flower) cookies and Roselle cookies in the near future.


-- BERNAMA