Businessman Mohamed Abdul Jaleel gives $500,000 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund

Businessman Mohamed Abdul Jaleel knows what it is like to go to school hungry.

The 55-year-old remembers scrimping on the money given to him for transport to and from school. He would walk for 30 minutes instead, so that he could afford to buy snacks and drinks.

He even had to drop out of secondary school to help ease his family's financial burden.

But later, Mr Jaleel went from doing odd jobs such as washing toilets and helping his father run his convenience store to founding a company with an annual revenue of more than $100 million.

Yesterday, he donated $500,000 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. This is his third donation to the fund. He gave a total of $400,000 in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Jaleel, chief executive of construction logistics company Mini Environment Service, said: "I remember it was very tough for me in the past, so I hope to help these children who experience hardship. They should not have to suffer from poverty.

"It is very hard to concentrate on studies when their families have problems, and money can put a lot of burden on their parents."

Last month, Mr Jaleel received the third tabla! Community Champion Award, given annually to a member of the Indian community who has made significant contributions in helping the less fortunate.

The father of six children, aged 18 to 30, added that he does not give his children much money while schooling as he wants to "train them to spend within their means and to save up".

And even though he grew up in a poor family, he said he had a happy childhood.

"My family didn't complain, we just went along with whatever was available. I think those struggles helped me appreciate things - that is something we don't learn in school," he said.

LIM YI HAN