SURI was started in 2015 by Salena Ahmad as an NGO. Fondly known as Sally, she wanted to help the single mothers and B40 communities in Klang.
“In our community alone, there were around 200 single mothers who were experiencing financial hardship. Most of them didn’t have full-time employment and didn’t have the skills to get them employed,” explained Sally.
In 2016, Sally joined the four-month programme by Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and converted her NGO into a social enterprise called Suri Inspirasi Sdn. Bhd.
“MaGIC has been by our side since the very beginning of SURI. From helping us with seed funding for our initiative 5 years ago, which we used to provide our small group of beneficiaries with industrial sewing machines, to now having over 20 corporations, international brands and agencies under our portfolio,” said Amer Asyraf, who is Sally’s son.
Sally focuses on the production side and the beneficiaries, which Amer focuses on the business side of the social enterprise. Sally follows the model of the cottage industry in Japan, where each community is highly specialised.
Teaching Life Skills
SURI aims to provide financial opportunity through teaching sewing, a useful life skill. All of SURI’s beneficiaries undergo a three-month training course to learn creative sewing skill. This is to ensure quality assurance under the brand SURI Lifestyle.
“First, we teach them sewing skills. Next, we offer them a job. That is how we set them up for a better life,” said Sally.
SURI works to help these mothers to become more productive and resourceful in order to be the best parent they can be for their children. Ultimately, it hopes to make a difference in the lives of the mothers and their families in the years to come.
“We aim to give the mothers a long-term, reliable source of income. This creates a social impact beyond just supporting themselves and their families. It gives the mothers a way to develop their personal growth and build up their independence and self-reliance,” he added.
SURI also offers assistance, encouragement and networking to help its beneficiaries live successful and productive lives.
“We aim to erase the mindset of charitable offerings to these mothers. We are geared towards an income based plan through our employment support programme. As they work and earn a living, it will have a profound impact on them and their children,” said Amer.
Helping the Environment
The textile industry is recognised as one of the prominent polluting industries in the world. SURI would like to help mitigate the environmental impact by using recycled denim to make bags and other products.
“The beauty of our products is they are environmentally friendly and have a positive social impact. It is also ethically made,” said Amer.
Sally started by training the first batch of single mothers in sewing. Subsequently, she trained more mothers to increase the number of deserving beneficiaries. Over time, SURI’s beneficiaries grew from only single mothers to include the B40 community and the underprivileged.
Currently, SURI has 20 mothers working for it full time in Klang, and 15 part-timers throughout the Klang Valley. Moreover, 10 of SURI’s mothers are now certified with Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (Level 3) as part of its sustainable growth initiative.
In addition, SURI is a part of the Pemangkin Usahawan Sosial Hebat (PUSH) programme, and supported by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). PUSH is a scale-up programme with an ambition to grow social enterprises and increase their social impact through a personalised capacity building and skills development training.
“PUSH has helped us to train and grow more beneficiaries. With PUSH, we have trained 40 additional B40 and single mothers and now have 5 new additional beneficiaries under our wings. PUSH has also helped us in exploring new product development, whereby we are now making products using not only recycled denim, but experimenting with other materials as well,” said Amer.
In 2022, SURI hopes to expand its reach to Langkawi Island.
How You Can Help
SURI collaborates with companies and shopping malls to collect used denim clothing such as jeans. This collection happens on a project basis. The social enterprise would like to invite more companies and shopping malls to help run campaigns to collect more used denim. Interested parties are encouraged to call or email SURI.
You can also support their initiative by buying their products on their website and also at their booths at bazaars.