GEORGE TOWN, July 17 ― Nicholas Pereira came to Penang two and a half years ago to set up a woodworking shop here due to his passion for making things out of wood but today, he is barely keeping his business afloat.
The 35-year-old’s Woodsmen Makerspace at Hin Bus Depot has been closed for weeks due to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) under Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
Even before this year's movement control orders (MCOs), the shop had already suffered a drop in business.
“It has been a year of struggling to survive and Hin Bus Depot has been very helpful about the rental throughout it all,” he said.
He had to withdraw money from his Employees Provident Fund (EPF) under i-SINAR early this year in order to make ends meet.
“I was able to sustain myself with that sum I withdrew, to pay the bills and for food for about six months,” he said.
This year, he said, he did get a few commissions but they were for small projects and were barely enough to cover his monthly expenses of RM1,400.
Previously, before the pandemic hit in 2020, Pereira would offer woodworking classes and along with commissioned projects, was able to make a living and maintain the shop.
He is also a part-time actor who has been in plays at Penangpac; his most recent play was Entropy which premiered online on July 1.
Now that the government has introduced i-Citra to allow withdrawals from EPF again, Nicholas said he has applied for it and is waiting for approval.
He said even with this second EPF withdrawal, he can survive for another four months but he hopes that he doesn't have to close the shop after that.
“I want to stay on in Penang as I am involved in a few more plays, about five to six shows in the pipeline that have been postponed and I will wait for the time when we can start again,” he said.
Pereira tried making small wooden items to sell online but these are items that people don't really need so sales has been slow.
Anyone interested in commissioning woodwork from Nicholas Pereira can contact him via his Instagram @woodsmen_makerspace.