Grants to support hawkers

From far left: Hawkers Samuel Chen and Pamela Loh; siblings and upcoming hawkers Tan Yu Yan and Tan Wee Yang; and recent hawker Daniel Yeo.
Hawkers Samuel Chen and Pamela LohST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
From far left: Hawkers Samuel Chen and Pamela Loh; siblings and upcoming hawkers Tan Yu Yan and Tan Wee Yang; and recent hawker Daniel Yeo.
Siblings and upcoming hawkers Tan Yu Yan and Tan Wee Yang.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
From far left: Hawkers Samuel Chen and Pamela Loh; siblings and upcoming hawkers Tan Yu Yan and Tan Wee Yang; and recent hawker Daniel Yeo.
Recent hawker Daniel Yeo.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Asia Pacific Breweries presented financial grants of $10,000 each to 25 current and upcoming hawkers

Ms Pamela Loh, 31, used to feel extremely frustrated with her hawker mother's long working hours.

"At times, I did not see or talk to her for weeks on end, even though we lived in the same house because she would be out of the house at 4am and came home only past midnight," she says.

But she found a way to bond with her mother - by quitting her job as a manager in a bank and becoming a hawker herself.

After understudying at her mother's yong tau foo stall for four months, she started her own stall in Tampines last November.

"I don't earn much as a hawker. It's a huge pay cut. I can't buy the material things I used to. But I get to talk to my mother so much more now," she says.

Yesterday, she was one of 25 current and future hawkers who each received a grant of $10,000 from Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore. The grants were part of the inaugural Tiger Street Food Support Fund.

The money can be used for all aspects of the hawker's business, except rental.

Launched last September on Tiger Beer's website, the fund is the beer brand's way of helping to preserve local street food culture. It is also part of its street food movement, which was launched last April.

There were 135 applicants for the fund between September and December last year.

Following a selection process, which involved two rounds of screenings and an interview, 25 were chosen to receive the grant.

The selection process involved evaluating the feasibility of the applicants' business plans as well as their projected earnings.

Former crane operator turned hawker Glen Liang, 28, is grateful for the grant. He opened Jenny's Laksa, a Nonya laksa stall in Ang Mo Kio, last October to pay homage to his mother's culinary skills.

She was an excellent cook and had always wanted to run a hawker stall, he says. He intends to spend the money on building more awareness of Peranakan laksa and improving the staff uniform.

For siblings Tan Wee Yang, 25, and Tan Yu Yan, 28, receiving the grant is validation of their efforts.

"This encourages us, that we have taken a step in the right direction," says Mr Tan.

For the whole of last year, they spent their weekends and weekday nights on more than 800 attempts at coming up with the "crustiest har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) in Singapore".

The siblings work in sales and accounting, but are prepared to leave their jobs and be hawkers once they secure a stall in the Jurong area. Their prawn paste chicken is deep-fried twice, using two different kinds of batter, they say.

The public will have the first taste of their recipe at Farmers' Market at Kranji Countryside Farmers' Market on March 11 and 12 where they will have a pop-up stall.

To recent hawker Daniel Yeo, 28, the grant is an important form of recognition.

"My mother has always felt that it's very 'wasted' for me - an educated person - to become a hawker. I want to show her that this is going to be worthwhile," he says.

He set up a stall in Clementi last October selling mantou (Chinese buns) with various sauces, but is waiting to relocate his stall.

Plans for the second edition of the Tiger Street Food Support Fund are underway and there is already one hawker who has his eye on the grant.

Ms Loh's boyfriend, Mr Samuel Chen, 29, started his yong tau foo stall last August. He intends to apply for the fund when application details are released.

"He was totally clueless about cooking in the beginning, but now, his stall has better business than mine," says Ms Loh with a laugh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Grants to support hawkers'. Print Edition | Subscribe