LETTER | Like so many others, my brother and I were badly hit when the Covid-19 pandemic reached our shores last year. We had just opened up a bubble tea shop in Port Dickson when the movement control order (MCO) was declared.
Like so many other businesses, we thought the MCO was temporary, and in no time, we'd be back in operations. But as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, we saw no light at the end of the tunnel.
As a new business, we did not have the financial reserves to carry us through the slump, unlike more established outlets. While the moratorium on bank loans had provided a breather, it wasn't a long-term solution.
Meanwhile, our overheads like rental and salaries kept piling up, although to be fair, we were already paying less than normal due to the MCO. On top of the financial burden the pandemic had imposed on the company, there's also the psychological impact on the two of us.
To start the business, we practically used up every sen of our savings. We were both excited to get the business off the ground, as we cherished the idea of being our own bosses, having been salaried staff for the longest time. Never did it cross our mind that our maiden business venture would come crashing down barely after taking off due to the pandemic.
For weeks and months, we lived on the edge, sometimes surviving on the generosity of relatives and friends who extended a helping hand where possible. One day, my cousin asked if we had heard of Geran Khas Prihatin (GKP). She told us that it's a cash aid the government has allocated for businesses like ours that have suffered from the slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
I thought we had nothing to lose by applying for the grant. The application was simple as everything was done online. Applicants were only asked the important information.
Not long after that, we found out that our application had been approved. The amount may not be a lot, but it certainly helped to keep our business afloat for slightly longer. More than a form of financial aid, GKP had been a morale booster. For us, the aid came at the right time as we had a long outstanding loan to settle and we could finally got the burden off our chests.
Now, with the Covid-19 National Immunisation Plan on track, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The business has started to pick up, although it's still a long way from the pre-pandemic era. Once the interstate travel ban is lifted, we expect "normalcy" to slowly return as Port Dickson thrives on tourism.
In hindsight, the pandemic has taught me and my brother that no matter how dire the situation, we just need to keep the faith. And if we look hard enough, there's bound to be some help, like how we stumbled upon the GKP aid. With the worst now behind us, we can now look forward to running our stall the way we had always envisioned.
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