Written by Kim Lim
Picha is officially one year old to date. May was the month we stepped into MaGIC last year, attended the social enterprise accelerator programme and hustled our way through to solidify our business model, gaining tractions and impacting more families.
Along the way, you can’t imagine how many people have supported us – from Picha Heroes for trusting in us and purchasing from us, mentoring and consulting the team, connecting and interviewing us – to the Picha families who have sacrificed and worked hard to make this social enterprise work. Honestly, sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the goodness around us, and we are extremely thankful and grateful towards all of you who are willing to support the cause that we are fighting for and trust in the work of a social enterprise.
Of course, there were bad days when sales are not ther or when catering jobs were just too tiring for us girls physically. Honestly, none of the co-founders are into business – need not to even say a catering or food business. One of us prefers to be in a disaster area working as a psychotherapist, one prefers to write and practice music at home and one prefers to have a stable and comfortable job.
Everybody asked the question, “why are you all doing this?”
The answer would be – the change that we see. The change when families with The Picha Project are able to finally pay for their rental and food monthly, the change when kids are given the opportunity to go to school and the change when the families can finally smile because they don’t have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.
Along the one year, although there were many Picha Heroes who are constantly backing us up, there are also people who didn’t had much confident in us for some reasons. Legalities, hygiene issues, food consistencies and mistakes that we made, some heroes that we lost and never return, some heroes who questioned us as a social enterprise and some heroes who questioned us on our operations and sustainability. We truly understand these concerns and doubts, and had always tried to prove ourselves as a sustainable business with good ethics and highest level of product because we have so much respect for both the Picha Families and the Picha Heroes.
Throughout the year, we co-founders have learnt so much technically, spiritually and emotionally. From setting up a business, sustaining it, serving our customers and families, to dealing with personal matters from the families, working with our team and collaborating with others. There were so much take-aways from this one year journey, and I hope we can share 3 important lessons that we have learnt here:
1. Customers are always right
Our Picha Heroes have the Picha team’s utmost respect – this means we must always strive to deliverer food and services with good quality. It starts from Picha Heroes enquiring, placing their order, making payment, giving Picha families the right orders and making sure that they deliver the best quality of food, to delivering the food on time and getting feedbacks from them. We ensure that anyone from the Picha team that speaks to our Picha Heroes are always smiling, talks with a bright tone and make sure our hero feels happy talking to them. If an order is delivered and everyone loved it, the Picha team does a little happy dance to celebrate. If an order goes wrong, we apologise sincerely and go an extra mile to make sure our heroes are well compensated. No matter what happens, the Picha team always try to ensure our heroes are well fed in their tummies and heart.
2. Understanding each other’s strength & work as a team
If you know the 3 co-founders personally, you will know that the 3 of us have very different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. One thinks a lot and is extremely pushy, one socializes better and is more organised, while one is very strict and knows her numbers well (try and match these with our faces lol). With all these elements mixed up like rojak, we learnt to compromise with one another, understand from each other’s point of view when certain decisions are made, and support each other when we are hustling. In the end, it all boils down to making ethical decisions that benefit both the company and families in every decision that we make. It’s the change we want to see that I mentioned earlier that brings us altogether. Besides that, working with new people in the team was also a challenge to us as we had to accept new people working in different ways, try to relearn their strengths, and empower them to be a change maker. A lot of discussions and changes were made in order for us to work better as a team, but it was all worth it as we see our interns still coming back to help out as a team even after completing their internship with The Picha Project, and they now have better understanding on the plight we are fighting for together.
3. What we thought was enough is never enough
Being able to support 8-10 families and making sure that they are financially stable was a great challenge. It means gaining more sales and revenue. Rest assured, the team has been working tirelessly for this to happen – meeting people, doing cold calls and emails, thinking of new ideas for collaborations all the time – to get to where it is today, the team has worked closely together with our heroes to support the families under The Picha Project. When we thought that families are all well taken care of, sometimes we are so wrong. Medical conditions, debts, accidents and education – it was a whole different situation especially when it comes to medical conditions. We pride ourselves as a social enterprise and will never accept donation but when it comes to large sums of urgent medical fees, we just had no other ideas to move on from there and had no choice but to fund-raise personally to help the families in need. That made us sometimes wonder, are we moving fast enough? Are we doing enough for one family? Should we move on to bigger things? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Somehow we understood that it all comes with patience and perseverance, with a lot of pain to see, but I know that the team will stay strong and persevere with the families.
Of course there are so much more that we can share about the things that we learnt, but these 3 stuck out the most to me when I was writing this blog. Many people asked us walk them through a day in Picha, and I wish I could answer them that I just sit the office replying emails, but that’s not the case. Our days change every single day. As co-founders, sometimes you want to be as hands on as possible too to solve certain issues. I always hold on to a quote Shirley Maya Tan from GK mentioned before, “If you are not going to be there, don’t even start because they can’t feel your love.” Honestly, that phrase replayed in my head over and over again from the day she shared and I will always remind myself to be as humble as I can, and be at the same level with the people we are working with – because only then we can understand their problem better and find the best solutions for them.
3 phrase to end the post – be humble, hustle on and HAPPY BIRTHDAY PICHA!
Thanks for reading, Picha Heroes!