KUALA LUMPUR: When Sammantha Paulus, 43, started her furniture business in Kuching in 2006, she was under no illusion that the life of an entrepreneur would be smooth sailing.
Dealing with the supply chain, customers and juggling expenses were things that Paulus had expected and accepted as part and parcel of being a small business owner.
However, nothing could have prepared her for the hardship brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected small- and medium-scale enterprises like hers.
New furniture was no longer a priority for Malaysians, who were more concerned about their jobs and keeping household expenses low.
The Movement Control Order (MCO), implemented to stop the spread of Covid-19, also meant that her shop, Empire Furniture Centre, was closed for almost two months.
However, her mission was to retain all 22 of her employees at the company's three branches, many of whom had been working for her for the last 14 years.
Through prudent financial management as well as government aid via the Wage Subsidy Programme, she has weathered the storm.
Under the programme, the government subsidises RM1,200 per employee. This, said Paulus, helped her retain her workforce.
"It was a trying time as I needed to maintain the business and pay salaries. I applied for other government aid but didn't get those.
"The only one that I got was the Wage Subsidy Programme, which helped me keep my workers."
Apart from the aid, she also dipped into her savings.
"With help, I was able to pay my staff's salaries.
"They understand that most businesses are struggling to survive and pay their workers.
"As for me, I'm grateful for the government aid to ease employers' burden."
She urged the government to continue extending aid to business owners like her so that they could continue to operate during the Recovery Movement Control Order period and beyond.
Paulus said although she was unable to operate her business during the MCO, she kept in touch with her customers.
She reopened on May 25, a day after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
"Customers have begun to return to the stores and we have obtained some sales. It's a slow start but we have many things to be grateful for."
Source: New Straits Times