What would you do if you had just won $100,000 in a lucky draw? Stash it away as savings for a rainy day? Or perhaps treat yourself to that long vacation you’ve always dreamed of?
For Mdm Nurhuda Rabbani, this windfall represented an opportunity to turn her passion for cooking into a business. Today, she is at the helm of Asyura Paste, a Singapore-based spice manufacturing company that creates readymade spice mixes for local favourites such as Rendang and Soto Ayam.
Her success with AsyuraPastes was not entirely due to luck but rather came as a result of her being able to learn from past mistakes. In 2007, driven by her love for cooking, she started her own restaurant serving Malay cuisine despite having no formal training in restaurant and business management. “I thought I could run a restaurant with just passion”, she says. However, passion on its own proved insufficient and she had to close the outlet after just 9 months of operation.
At her lowest point, Mdm Huda found herself with just S$40 in her bank account and no savings, with 4 children that she needed to care and provide for. Her lucky break came when, on her husband’s urging, she filled up her details for a lucky draw on a supermarket receipt.
“(He said) Just fill it up, you might just get it.”
A few days later, she received the news that she had just won S$100,000.
Rather than to deposit the money, she and her husband decided to give food business a second chance, and the idea for AsyuraPastes was born.
This time however, she did not just have passion to keep her business afloat, but experience from running her restaurant and guidance from business advisors at the SME Centre@SMCC as well. She is behind the brainstorming and creation of new spice mix, while the advisors assisted her in securing grants that allowed her company to embrace automation and scale up. She even ropes in her family members to help with the business, her eldest child who is currently studying in university, assists with marketing the brand, particularly on social media platforms.
As a result, today Asyura Pastes sells about 40,000 packets a week, mainly within the Singapore market. She also works with local institutions such as Singapore Polytechnic and has partnerships to supply her mixes to restaurants here, but Mdm Huda has bigger plans, “I want to bring my pastes across the world,” she shared.
When asked what kept her going, particularly as a female entrepreneur, she credits her husband for supporting her throughout the process, “At home, he is my husband and at work we are partners.”
In risk-averse Singapore where many women are afraid of the possibility of failure and are unsure about the support they can get to bring their entrepreneurial dreams to reality, Mdm Huda’s story is inspirational and shows how with grit and the right support, one can turn her passion into a profitable business.
Written by Sarah Baretto
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