Pepper Labs Steps Up Empowerment Of Social Enterprises With Expanded Capacity Building Initiative

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 November 2021Pepper Labs, an accredited social enterprise empowering marginalised communities, is expanding its slate of capacity building programmes to support sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives and digital transformation. Kicking off the inaugural cohort of its Micro-Entrepreneurship and Digital Empowerment programme on 18 September 2021 with a full cohort of 80 participants as well as the first cohort of the Youth Development & Gig Economy programme on 2 October 2021 with a full cohort of 20 participants, Pepper Labs is now welcoming registration for upcoming cohorts, with the next cohort set to kick off in December 2021 with another 200 participants. Concurrently, Pepper Labs is also welcoming partnership opportunities for upcoming programmes.

Distinctive for its focus on grassroots capacity development, Pepper Labs is known for its previous work on Masala Wheels, a social enterprise founded to feed and empower marginalised communities through capacity building and employment opportunities in the F&B business, with a key focus on at-risk youths. From there, Pepper Labs has expanded into a comprehensive infrastructure of support for beneficiaries through digital and economic empowerment. Seeing the success of Masala Wheels, Pepper Labs decided to divest and turn over the full operations and ownership of said enterprise to a team comprising former beneficiaries in August 2021 – a meaningful celebration of independence in conjunction with Merdeka Day and a groundbreaking achievement. The full handover of the restaurant enterprise to the beneficiary group is the first of its kind in Malaysia, setting an example of full economic empowerment.

In the near future, Pepper Labs has targeted a quick turnaround in the setting up of three enterprises with subsequent divestment to beneficiaries. Last October, Pepper Labs set up three cloud kitchen spaces and have identified young unemployed culinary graduates as beneficiaries to operate the enterprises, and who will eventually take over the full operations and ownership within six months.

Pepper Labs holds Social Enterprise Accreditation (SE.A) Plus status from the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC)’s national certification programme that recognises legitimate social enterprises. The certification reflects its social impact, just allocation of resources and operational and financial sustainability, besides permitting tax exemptions for donations. 

“The team at Pepper Labs has long believed in combining our individual knowledge and skills to better the lives of fellow members of the community, especially those who have been marginalised. We believe in using capacity building to enrich lives and create sustainable digital and economic empowerment for inclusive growth. By offering opportunities to upskill that in turn opens doors to a better future, we hope to kick off and sustain a virtuous cycle that will improve wellbeing for more and more people,” said Dinesh Pandian, Director of Pepper Labs.

“We are very proud of how the former Masala Wheels beneficiaries have uplifted themselves, thus we want to expand the ways in which we can make a positive impact. There are undoubtedly many like-minded people out there who want to create positive change, and we welcome them to contact us for possible partnerships and collaborations. We are guided by the belief that ‘Change starts today and it starts with all of us’, so we want to invite everyone to join our mission,” he added.

Multi-prong Capacity Building

Pepper Labs’ capacity building programmes focus on three key areas – Micro-Entrepreneurship & Digital Empowerment, Youth Development & Gig Economy and Social Entrepreneurship & Policy Consultation. 

For Micro-Entrepreneurship & Digital Empowerment, Pepper Labs runs a programme focusing on the digitalisation of existing or new micro-enterprises through entrepreneurial training and digital mentoring, including training on managing logistics, e-commerce and payment systems. With training done in cohorts, registration for the next upcoming session is currently open until 30 November 2021 while the next cohort of trainees is set to kick off in December. Each cohort will be trained and mentored for one to three months depending on their capacity.

For Youth Development & Gig Economy, Pepper Labs runs a changemaker programme to shape a new generation of social entrepreneurs and digital ambassadors, where the youths receive training on Gig economy career empowerment and on creating social enterprises. The upcoming cohort is currently open for registration until 30 November and is set to kick off in December. Each cohort will be trained and mentored for one to three months depending on their capacity.

Meanwhile, Pepper Labs is working on rolling out the Social Tech & IR4.0 Accelerator Programme, and welcomes potential sponsors and partners. For Socioeconomic Policy Consultation & Impact Assessment, Pepper Labs continues to offer policy input towards shaping the social entrepreneurship space in Malaysia through recommendations, guidelines and budgetary allocations, via its role as the Chair representing Malaysia in the Malaysian Chapter of Catalyst 2030 – a global movement of social entrepreneurs and social innovators. In the Social Tech & IR4.0 Accelerator Programme.  Pepper Labs aims at continuing to expand a tech-enabled Cloud Kitchen that provides F&B micro-entrepreneurs with the facilities and support necessary to expand their businesses and are looking to identify unemployed culinary graduates to register before 31 December 2021.