Young company picks a young cause to help

AN ESTIMATED 8,000 children are born into poverty in Singapore each year, according to research done by Literacy Initiative for Equity (LIFE), which strives to provide opportunities for underprivileged children.

The non-profit organisation aims to support these children by equipping them with tools and opportunities, with the support of companies such as Halal Food Hunt (HFH).

Though HFH is young, that has never been a hindrance in giving back.

"We don't have to wait till we are a big company with millions in revenue before giving back whenever we can. Giving is something simple and can be done at all levels of income, or any type of situation," said Jumaiyah Mahathir, managing director of Chooosie Group and co-founder of HFH.

"We chose Literacy Initiative for Equity (LIFE) because they need more support and resources as they start up, as opposed to famous charities which are already known to the community. We identify with their struggles and wanted to help them too. These are young beneficiaries and causes; and being a new company ourselves, we empathised because we know what it feels like to not have money or resources. Our merchants resonated with their cause too," she added.

LIFE provides enrichment activities to the children, building communication competencies as well as raising self-confidence and positive behaviour towards learning.

Nur Farhanah Saemon, president of LIFE SG, said: "We are reaching out to pockets of society that established organisations may have missed out. Our programme flourished from love and is provided through love, and we have a strong desire to transform not only the lives of children and their parents, but the mindset of society towards poverty and those experiencing it."

HFH has helped raise funds for LIFE through programmes like Giving Week 2016, where a dish initiative was held with merchants listed on pledging a dish to their chosen charity and donating the proceeds from the dish.

HFH also allocated S$5 from FRIENDS Card sales to beneficiaries like LIFE as well as Project Goodwill Aid.

Project Goodwill Aid (PGA) is a volunteer group that helps low-income families as well as old folks living alone by distributing essentials such as groceries and milk powder, as well as other disposables like diapers.

PGA also actively seeks out families with homes that are in need of cleaning and refurbishing, and conducts makeover projects with volunteers to help them.

The cause was started by accident, when founder Siti Nurani Salim came across a child abuse case back in 2013.

"We realised that there are many needy families and especially elderly (people) who are suffering behind closed doors. Hence, it became our mission to seek them out and help to address their plight by giving them access to food, proper education, proper living conditions and show them avenues for seeking financial and other aid," said Ms Nurani.

HFH has also supported PGA in their causes, sponsoring their Back To School project last year, where they bought school necessities for underprivileged children.

In addition, HFH has helped out in PGA's annual Hari Raya drive, where goods are packed and distributed to low-income families.

Shamsydar Ani, welfare I/C & resident food connoisseur at HFH, said: "Personally for me, it's important that we contribute back to society because without the opportunities I was given growing up, I wouldn't be able to do what I am doing at There's a sense of gratitude and nostalgia when we continue to give back to society. Also, we Muslims believe that indeed the hand that gives is better than the hand that takes, so no matter how well a business is doing, giving to charity is important to keep the spirit alive."

The Muslim-centric company provides a list of halal-certified or Muslim-owned food businesses online to make it easier for the Muslim community to select halal food options based on the cravings and social requirements they have.

When asked how giving back helps their company, Ms Jumaiyah said: "Currently we focus on doing good for the Singapore community. When we do this, we align ourselves as a Singaporean brand that understands the community and is a part of it, and therefore, engages our readers and followers better.

"It also improves our relationship with our listed merchants. Our listed merchants vary from food businesses which are part of holding groups, to the small independent merchants. When we propose collaborative giving projects to them, the large companies are able to have more brand recall among consumers in our market, and the smaller companies are also able to be part of this brand awareness which they would not have been able to get without our help as they would be too busy firefighting daily operations."

  • This article is part of a series showcasing companies that prove size does not matter when it comes to giving. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as media partner. Go to for more information.