PETALING JAYA, Nov 27 — The Covid-19 pandemic has left many newly-graduated students with little to no opportunities to get a job once they have finished studying.
It’s no different here in Malaysia either, as many people, not just students, have found it hard to get a job during this time.
While some continue to search for a position of employment, one graduate from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, decided to take matters into his own hands by starting up his own business to earn a living.
Kavievanan Subramaniam, fondly known as Kavie, has become somewhat famous of late online after a post on the UnderMYPayung Facebook page about his Masala Chai Tea business-on-wheels made its rounds on social media.
Kavie told Malay Mail in an interview that he decided it was the right time to pursue his dream of starting up his own business after struggling to land a traditional-paying job.
“I graduated in February right before the pandemic. Like everyone else, I was looking for a job but no one was hiring,” said the 23-year-old.
“I’ve always wanted to do something related to business. I love drinking tea — I drink it every evening — so I thought why not start a business around it.”
Convincing his parents to support his new dream was not as easy though, as Kavie said they were a little hesitant at first.
“I was a bit scared and sad to tell them I wanted to sell tea. They had planned everything nicely for me to have an education and get a good job,” said Kavie.
“But I just got everything ready and told them the day before I was going to do it.
“They didn’t seem happy at first, but in the end, they told me that they are very proud of me for trying to do something like this. My mother even gave me some recipes to use for making the tea.”
Kavie, who graduated from Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) with a mechanical engineering degree, added that he wanted to try something “different” with his business, as opposed to setting up a regular tea stall.
“It’s something classic I guess. You don’t really see many people doing it here in Malaysia so I thought I’d try it out.
“Earlier in May this year, I bought a tall water dispenser and attached it to my bicycle. I got about 20 to 30 cups and went to Brickfields to test the market,” he said.
Kavie said that he cycles an average of five kilometres a day around Brickfields in the evenings, between 3pm and 5pm, with the filled-up 40-litre dispenser attached to the back of his bicycle.
He sells the Masala Tea at RM1 per cup, and also sells an assortment of cakes and buns to go with his tea as well.
Kavie also said that after a month or two he began to get a lot of regular customers, as many people were intrigued by his unique idea.
“Slowly business picked up. From selling 30 cups a day I was able to sell about 100 cups a day. I got a lot of pick up orders from some regular customers as well,’ said Kavie.
“People were really interested in my idea to sell tea from my bicycle so I carried on doing it.”
Kavie then sought the help of his best friend from school, Arvind Ratna Kumar, to expand his business to cover the Masjid Jamek and Masjid India areas as well.
“He (Arvind) has been extremely helpful to me, since day one. He was working somewhere else when I came to him with this idea but he agreed to help me with it and now works full-time with me to push this business,” he said.
Kavie added that even during torrential rain storms like we’re experiencing now, “business goes on,” despite only having an umbrella attached to his bike handle to shield him from the elements.
“I will cycle in the rain as well because it’s actually the perfect time to sell tea. Most people would love to have hot tea when it gets cold as it rains.
“So I look for people at bus stops or train stations to sell them a hot cup of tea. Sometimes I will ‘standby’ at those areas if the weather doesn’t look good.”
Kavie said that it takes about one-and-a-half hours to make 40-litres of his Masala Tea.
He also said that it was slightly different from the regular store-made tea as he makes it “milder” and “less spicy” so that you don’t need a refined tongue to enjoy it.