Hong Leong Islamic Bank Empowers B40 Single Mothers with Sustainable Income in Partnership with SURI

Following the introduction of the HLB Jumpstart – Micro Business social financing program last October, Hong Leong Islamic Bank (“HLISB” or the “Bank”) is expanding its Value-Based Intermediation (“VBI”) initiatives by partnering SURI, a Social Enterprise focusing on empowering underprivileged / B40 mothers by providing financial opportunity and living skill of sewing. Funded by a RM77,600 injection from HLISB through Lembaga Zakat Selangor’s Zakat Wakalah fund, the flagship initiative aims to empower low-income single mothers with opportunities to start their own businesses and earn a sustainable income, alleviating the community from tough financial conditions and starting them on a journey towards financial freedom.

This collaboration sees HLISB and SURI upskilling 20 single mothers from the B40 community with 3 months of intensive sewing and product development training, with a focus on using recycled and upcycled materials. The coaching sessions will culminate in them producing 1000 units of high-quality products, leading them to secure part-time or full-time employment. Additionally, each participant will be given a sewing machine to create and produce their own products, empowering them to start their own business and generate sustainable income.

The empowerment program was launched by Dafinah Ahmed Hilmi, CEO of HLISB, alongside Ustaz Mohamad Farid Mohd Zainal, Head of Research and Shariah Secretariat Department Lembaga Zakat Selangor and Salena Ahmad, founder of SURI at a launch event held at SURI Inspirasi, Klang, on 12 July 2023. Dafinah Ahmed Hilmi acknowledged the importance of empowering female entrepreneurs in Malaysia, especially single mothers, and hoped to see this partnership with HLB Jumpstart grow to greater heights. 

“As a community bank, we are always looking for ways to promote financial inclusion and positively impact the communities we operate in. With inflation and rising cost of living, low-income single mothers are a marginalized community who face a huge mountain to climb in trying to provide for their families, from putting food on the table to affording general living costs and quality education for their children. On the flip side, women-owned businesses have contributed almost RM70 billion to the country’s GDP, proving to be a key contributor to Malaysia’s economy.

We believe in unlocking the potential of these women by leveraging their tenacity and determination, as well as through strategic collaborations with social enterprises. Therefore, we are proud to kickstart this community empowerment program with SURI to help these underserved women generate a steady income and build a better life for themselves. We also hope to further expand our VBI initiatives through our HLB Jumpstart – Micro Business platform and continue empowering underserved communities towards achieving their financial freedoms”. 
Zalman Zainal, Chief Marketing Officer of Hong Leong Bank, commented on the impact that social enterprises like SURI have made in their respective communities. 

“SURI was the first Social Enterprise to join our HLB Jumpstart Program in 2019 and since then, we have witnessed the change and impact that can be generated through supporting social enterprises like them with their on-ground initiatives and business operations. Thus far, SURI has empowered 18 single mothers to start their own businesses, and recorded sales increase of 322% with their denim upcycling products. This is a testament to what we can do when we consolidate our resources with social enterprises and channel our support to these underserved communities.

As a Bank that embraces sustainability practices and promotes financial inclusion, our partnership with SURI has been a fruitful win-win situation for all parties. With the launching of this collaboration with HLISB, we hope to continue working with SURI and empower even more aspiring entrepreneurs to rise up and generate their own revenue streams.”

In line with the Bank’s mission to promote financial inclusion, the single mothers participating in the program will receive HLISB Currents and Savings Account-i to kick start their business journey, providing them access to a comprehensive suite of financial products and services that will help manage their cash flow and plan better for the future.

HLB Jumpstart – Micro Business is an extension of HLB Jumpstart that aims to help Malaysian social enterprises build successful businesses by providing expansion opportunities, guidance and industry resources. The social enterprises are given access to valuable guidance and assistance from industry professionals, networking opportunities, digitalization tools, and branding and marketing tools, empowering them to build and expand their businesses to generate more change in their communities.

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