Not just for begin-ups: Singapore company accelerator assists maids get tips off the ground back household

SINGAPORE: Each and every morning, Ms Armi Sampani wakes up at 6am to feed her 400 laying hens. She then carries h2o in gallon containers from her residence in the Philippines to her chicken farm ahead of possessing breakfast. 

This is a significantly cry from what she envisioned when she wanted to set up an ice cream confectionery in her home city of Iloilo City, but then, COVID-19 occurred.

Right after performing in Singapore as a domestic helper for 13 decades, Ms Sampani returned to Iloilo City in August 2019 and started her ice cream business in March past 12 months – just as the pandemic strike Southeast Asia.

The desire for cold desserts evaporated amid the coronavirus outbreak, even as nations started lockdowns that shuttered food and beverage retailers, shut borders and limited actions.

She is continue to operating her ice cream enterprise, but the pandemic prompted her to target on the poultry farm she set up and offering the eggs.

Ms Sampani is an alumna of AIDHA, an organisation that runs programs, predominantly on money management, for international domestic workers and reduced-revenue gals in Singapore.

The organisation has a business enterprise accelerator programme – a thought involved with get started-ups – and Ms Sampani is between 12 females who graduated from it in 2021 as she took lessons pretty much even following returning to the Philippines.


In the begin-up environment, small business accelerators aid fledgling firms get up to pace by supporting them with means, cash and tips from mentors. AIDHA aims to do the very same, but for domestic helpers who will be returning to their residence nations around the world. 

The 6-thirty day period programme contains workshops on state-of-the-art organization topics, dedicated mentoring and up to S$2,500 in funding for those who are prepared to begin their businesses – provided they fulfill milestones that are agreed upon during the programme.

Following shelling out the day running her chicken farm, as nicely as offering eggs and ice product, Ms Sampani spends the night time logging her expenditures and profits, and analysing how her business is carrying out. This is all paperwork that she desires to post to AIDHA to safe her funding.

On leading of this, she does the housework and usually takes treatment of her aged moms and dads, who are section of the motive why she moved again house soon after additional than a ten years in Singapore.

“I have no day off. It truly is from the time I wake up till the time I rest,” she instructed CNA in a Zoom interview that was punctuated by the crows of roosters on her farm.

How did an aspiration to promote ice cream switch into a chicken farm company? 

Again then, Ms Sampani wanted fresh new eggs of great good quality, but she would often get negative eggs from the industry. The previous agricultural key in college then made the decision to get her personal hens for eggs.

As COVID-19 stymied her ice product business, she started increasing the farm and she now programs to boost the range of poultry to 1,000.


When questioned if her profits has enhanced from her time doing work in Singapore, she claimed: “I’m creating additional, mainly because, you know what, I am pleased … listed here I’m my very own manager. 

“It’s really excellent as you’re surrounded by your spouse and children that you are near with.”

When she receives the cash from AIDHA, she will get an industrial ice product maker that will make it less complicated to make the artisanal ice product she has in mind.

She told CNA she desires to make ice product that preferences as excellent as Haagen Daz or Ben & Jerry’s but at a portion of the expense – as the western models are far too highly-priced for her local community. And she’s now bought a manufacturer identify – Armi’s ice cream.

Armi Sampani  eating ice cream

Ms Armi Sampani eating ice product at the AIDHA campus in Singapore in 2018. (Picture: AIDHA)

Working with baking techniques that she picked up in Singapore while doing work for an American relatives, she is experimenting with local ingredients including avocado, mango, coconut, coffee, as perfectly as chocolate from community cacao. She has also been trying out a new flavour – leche, a Philippine dessert that is created from condensed milk.

Besides COVID-19, there are loads of other challenges – recurrent brownouts (a major challenge for a frozen dessert maker), unstable World-wide-web link and a absence of infrastructure. For illustration, rather of having her substances from one supermarket or have suppliers provide them, she may well have to go to a few sites to source for them herself.

“It’s not really effective. Because you can do just one detail or two or a few matters in one day (in this article). Contrary to in Singapore, you can do six items,” she reported.

She delivers her eggs on a bicycle and carries with her compact orders of ice product. “Sometimes I have on my bicycle five trays on just one facet and five trays on the other facet, so I have 10 trays to supply,” she additional.


Her mentor in the AIDHA accelerator programme, Mr Paolo Adragna, reported that Ms Sampani has shown “extreme resilience” by switching from providing the product or service she had in thoughts to promote the raw ingredient as an alternative.

“She experienced the concept of, for the time becoming, utilizing some of the expertise that she experienced acquired from the business accelerator and component of the company as she had currently begun to extend the range of solutions that she was advertising,” he advised CNA in a independent interview.

“That was an exceptional thought to keep the company afloat … it’s a testament to her resilience and to her strength.”

Paolo Adragna mentor at AIDHA

Mr Paolo Adragna, Ms Armi Sampani’s mentor during AIDHA’s business enterprise accelerator programme. (Photograph: AIDHA)

Her strengths, mentioned Mr Adragna, ended up her determination and knowledge of the nearby market but the accelerator helped her hone her economical and business management capabilities.

“At the commencing, she was a little bit wobbly on the stability sheets … so that is something we truly labored difficult at,” he mentioned.

Mr Adragna, a senior developer at fiscal computer software firm Fidessa, also shared with Ms Sampani his expertise and recommendations from when his family ran a butcher shop in Viareggio, Italy.

Coincidentally, his sister now manages an artisanal ice cream shop in Italy and it was also easy for him to grasp the total ice cream-producing method when speaking about the manufacturing with Ms Sampani, he explained. 

“(My family’s shop) was in fact incredibly similar to most of the enterprises that these women of all ages will conclusion up working … A whole lot of them open up both modest retailers or compact farms. I arrive from a family of farmers as properly,” he said.


Eli Nur Fadilah

Ms Eli Nur Fadilah, a graduate of AIDHA. (Picture: AIDHA)

An additional AIDHA small business accelerator graduate, Eli Nur Fadilah, is currently doing the job in Singapore as a domestic helper but her enterprise system is set for when she returns to Indonesia, quite possibly when her agreement finishes up coming 12 months.

She will be a part of her loved ones trade and sell hen porridge with gizzard satay for breakfast.

Eli, whose mother and brother are hawkers, desires to carry the common flavor of her mother’s food to her group in Cilacap, in Indonesia’s Central Java.

Eli Nur Fadilah hawker stall

Ms Eli Nur Fadilah’s household operates a hawker stall in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia.

It will suggest waking up in the wee hours of the morning to simmer the porridge over a charcoal fire for 3 to 4 hrs, she explained.

“Being in the food stuff organization is constantly remarkable simply because when we’re tired and hungry, we eat,” she stated with enthusiasm.

Immediately after the programme, she has a far better idea of where by to get funding for small companies in Indonesia, she stated. To do that, she very first needs a sound business enterprise strategy, which she has already drawn up.

DREAMING Significant

The mentors at AIDHA quizzed her on all aspects of her business enterprise program, Ms Eli said, from pricing and promoting to the location of her foodstuff stall and the competitors she will encounter. This produced her do research and prepare considerably a lot more for the enterprise, she said.

“AIDHA genuinely aids me to know what to do,” she mentioned in an job interview done in English. “How do I established the selling price, how do I introduce the merchandise … almost everything, so that I will have financial gain, and cut down the possibility of failing.”

The point that other graduates from AIDHA have absent on to commence businesses in their household nations has influenced her, Ms Eli mentioned.

“It is great to be unbiased and, as a female, economically independent,” she added.

She will start out modest, with significantly less than S$500 of cash. But with the business, pc and accounting skills she has uncovered from the accelerator, she hopes to broaden the organization in time.

Like Ms Eli, Ms Sampani also has even larger plans once the pandemic is in excess of. Due to the fact she has been religiously logging her finances, she knows that her ice cream business enterprise has not turned a gain, but she proceeds to do the job on marketing and advertising it. 

“I know that I’ve been expending also a lot on ice product like devote, expend, devote,” she reported. “But I truly want this ice cream to realize success … I want this to be identified in my space, and then develop to the metropolis. And I’m genuinely pretty bold, I want to be identified in the Philippines.”