Social enterprise hawker centres

Study reasons for unhappiness with new model

Recently, many issues regarding the social enterprise hawker centres initiative have been brought up (Teething problems with new hawker centre model, Oct 14; Time to end not-for-profit hawker centre experiment, by Mr Elvin Ong, Oct 16).

This may be due to the difference in the expectations that businesses and consumers have of the initiative.

Hawkers expect to be making profits while the consumers expect everything to cost less.

This disparity has led to the existing negativity surrounding the social enterprise hawker initiative.

The relevant authorities and the organisations managing the new model hawker centres should answer some of these questions so that the consumers understand what to expect from them.

What is the meaning and purpose of the scheme? Should the organisations managing these hawker centres be making a profit?

Hawkers expect to be making profits while the consumers expect everything to cost less.

This disparity has led to the existing negativity surrounding the social enterprise hawker initiative. Social enterprise hawker centres

Is it the responsibility of the organisations that are managing the hawker centres to ensure that all the hawkers make a profit?

Shouldn't it be the responsibility of individual hawkers to ensure what they are selling suits consumers' taste and ensure their business is viable?

Is it right for consumers to expect that food prices will be low? If so, then how do we expect new hawkers to join the trade when it is hard for them to make a profit?

Interestingly, there are hawkers renting stalls at much higher rates who still make a profit and are not complaining.

So what is the real reason behind the rising negativity behind the initiative?

Hopefully, the relevant authorities will study this.

Lim Tong Wah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'Study reasons for unhappiness with new model'. Print Edition | Subscribe