Sunday, October 10, 2010

Project Dignity

4th Oct Monday
Electrical was incomplete. Loose cable and lights not working. Though the equipment are in place, the facilities are not ready. No plumbing, no lights and no student. Got some kitchen equipment for the kitchen and realised that the electrical source is single phase power source. Why did I not think of this. This is the start of the first working day.

Mr. Polio is the first student and he actually came a day earlier to check out the route to the school. He used to work in the kitchen of a restaurant chain but was retrenched due to his disability and old age. He has a walking disability and has problem standing for long hours. I actually did discouraged from training to be a hawker. In the first day he fell down five times. His hip will lock up and he will bend ninety degree forward. Then came Mr. Ex-Con, looking for work. The next two students - Ms Single Mother and The Blind Boy will start tomorrow.

It is good to be trained as an engineering fitters, the skills come in useful when you really cannot find a plumber or an electrician and/or trying to keep your cost down. Do-it-yourself approach. The day was spend DIY job.

Time 1930 hrs
I always believe with no matter how much planning you do, something will still go wrong with any startup.

Just got a call from the blind boy's mom telling me they are still in KL, want a longer holiday and want to start in a few days. Where do we find the replacement?

Project Dignity

1 Oct 10 am
Sitting at the food court and looking at the four stalls. A dream that ihas finally come to fruitation. The equipment is finally in place. The electrical work is in progress and the fridge just arrived . Need to get the fridge cleaned. All the equipment are second hand equipment. The decorators are painting the class room and sorting out the electrical lightings.

Monday will have to start work on the food. Nasi Lemak will be by Molly's staff. They will get the fryer, rice cooker etc working for the students to come in for training on Tuesday. I want to start with stall one first before starting the food for stall 2.

Finalising the curriculum with the students from the Polytechnic working with an experience trainer. Educating the hawker is an important part of the success of PD. The curriculum is the intellectual property of PD and secondly there was never a formal education structured for this trade and this hawker trade has a workforce of thousands. The idea is to take MBA standard and structured to the hawker level. This is not an easy task and hence will require a lot of creative input on the pedagogy. The idea is to spent an hour or two a day to educate on theoretical details of hawkers.

Will leave Saturday and Sunday to do the finishing touch to the stalls and the kitchen. I believe as we are dealing with food the environment has to be perfect.

Monday is the food tasting.

Project Dignity

30 Sep

Could not sleep. Today starts writing cheque to pay up the advance rental, deposits, some of the renovation cost and gst ~ to the tune of ten of thousands of dollars. When you start spending money and waiting for the income it is time to start sweating. This by the way is a good thing, it get your adrenaline pumping and hence cannot sleep. Too many things to think about as tomorrow I took over the food stalls and start paying.

Project Dignity

27 Sep

Today the money is finally transfered. I can start the drawdown.

Total budget for this project estimated $200k. The drawdown is $120,000 with $80k as backup. Always has a backup. In all the projects that I have been involved in setting up over the last 25 years, I learn about need and want. What I want to finance in the new business versus what I need in term of financing the new business startup. There is a difference. This startup will cost about S$200k. In any business startup one has to separate what u want and what u need. I want $300k to comfortably start up PD but to satisfy the needs I will require $200 considering a 4 stall setup.

There is another lesson that I learn is that it is not possible to to micro budget a project, there is always something that you missed out, many a time you hope it is a small "missed out". This is especially true for unique project like Project Dignity where there are so many variables.

There is a line drawn between family and business. There is a old saying that said 'Settle yourself, your family then your country'. So before you go out to save the world, make sure your wife and children are well taken care.

In the case of PD, the money comes from the re mortgage of my office. I can seek investors, but PD being such a new concept, finding and pursuing someone to part with their money is not going to be easy.

For a start, my belief is based very much on what I learn from the development of Dubai - "Build and they will come". I always believe some concepts and ideas are hard to explain and even harder to raise money. For PD everyone I spoke to in the last four years like the concept but when it comes to the funding, it is an uphill task. There will definitely be many assumptions and constrain highlighted like you are dealing with disabled, dealing with association and government agency and hawker business. PD is an unique project and the only solution is to 'build and they will come' approach.

The other belief that I have was - "Think big, start small". I have big plan for PD but I start small with 4 stalls. PD is scalable, an unique preposition and a first mover advantage. Additional funding will be required in the future.