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Home-based businesses 'need all the support that they can get to continue' during Covid-19 period: Halimah

SINGAPORE — The earnings for home-based businesses are “even more critical" to those whose spouses have lost their income or jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the businesses — mostly run by women — need all the support they can get to continue, said President Halimah Yacob on Friday (May 1).

Home-based businesses 'need all the support that they can get to continue' during Covid-19 period: Halimah

Madam Halimah Yacob said that she buys her Hari Raya cookies from home-based businesses every year in order to support them and because they provide the kind of cookies she would “make myself at home if I had the time”.

SINGAPORE — The earnings for home-based businesses are “even more critical" to those whose spouses have lost their income or jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the businesses — mostly run by women — need all the support they can get to continue, said President Halimah Yacob on Friday (May 1).

Home-based businesses have been in the spotlight in recent days after the Government said last week that they must meet certain criteria in order to continue operating during the circuit breaker period or face a S$1,000 fine for a first offence.

These businesses can remain open if they only operate online without requiring business owners or workers to leave their homes and do not require customers or third-party delivery services to collect or deliver goods at the residences.

As many relied on the current Ramadan period to boost their income, they were hit hard by the announcement

In her Facebook post on Friday, Madam Halimah said that the women who run home-based businesses earn the most during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, in order to pay for their own Hari Raya expenses and for their own personal needs.

It is “an important source of income” for them, and going out to work or even working from a central kitchen is “not an easy option” as they have children or elderly and sick parents to take care of, she added.

These businesses also provide diversity in food and convenience to working women, she said.

“I feel that it’s become an intrinsic part of our food culture. Some home-based businesses subsequently gained enough confidence and managed to convert their cooking to successful catering and restaurant businesses,” she noted.

She added: "I sure hope that many more will be able to make that leap but, in the meantime, they need all the support that they can get to continue with their home-based business."

She said that she buys her Hari Raya cookies from such businesses every year in order to support them and because they provide the kind of cookies she would “make myself at home if I had the time”.

“It’s not the standard commercial cookies that are on sale everywhere but cookies up to your own taste. So in this way, the home-based business meets an important need of many families celebrating their Hari Raya,” she pointed out, adding that she looks forward to buying from home-based businesses after circuit breaker restrictions are lifted.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli had earlier called out individuals who asked such businesses to pressure the Government into making exceptions for them, referring to such behaviour as “irresponsible”.

On Wednesday, however, he said in another Facebook post that he understood the frustrations of such business owners, especially for many Malay-Muslim businesses who have “received many orders” and had their seasonal incomes affected during this period.

He added that if the situation improves and community numbers come down soon, such businesses would be able to resume their operations while adhering to safe distancing measures.

Mr Masagos also announced ways in which these businesses will be helped through the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI). Home-based businesses that register through them will automatically qualify for the Temporary Relief Fund.

The SMCCI will also collect relevant data from such businesses to better understand the impact of the measures on their income as well as to ascertain how to better support them — be it logistics or business management — during this period and in the long term.

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Halimah Yacob Home-based business Ramadan Hari Raya Puasa

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