Before 2016, Zamzana Mohd Arifin was in the spa and beauty business. Some of her customers asked her to go to their homes after they had given birth to provide massage services. She realised that there is a market for this kind of services.
In 2016, Zamzana decided to train to become a postnatal therapist. She felt it could provide her with a potential business opportunity in the health and wellness industry. She also had another reason to embark in this new direction. When she had her first child, she had a hard time finding a postnatal therapist or confinement care lady. She had a bad experience with an old postnatal therapist and ended up in the hospital!
“Urban women face challenges in finding traditional confinement care services. The biggest problem is finding a confinement lady who can be trusted. In Malaysia, there are only 1,000 registered postnatal therapists,” explained Zamzana, CEO of PantangPlus.com.
Establishing the Platform
She wanted to do it commercially, the right way, and with good intentions. That was how PantangPlus.com was conceptualised. It is a confinement package booking platform, which matched customers with confinement ladies who were nearest to them. There are daily visit packages, as well as live-in packages. Customers could also buy packages for 14, 21 or 28 days.
She started with four postnatal therapists and faced the challenge of getting more to join her platform. She eventually had more postnatal therapists coming on board because of word-of-mouth. The existing postnatal therapists who were happy with the platform spread the word for her. At the same time, she was also approached by shelters to help young unwed mothers.
In 2016, Zamzana joined the four-month Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) Accelerator Programme. She learnt that it was important to have a strong business model before she could help beneficiaries. She was challenged to grow her platform to include 100 postnatal therapists who could provide services all over Malaysia.
Her business evolved into a social enterprise that trained women from the B40 community to become postnatal therapists. This enabled them to become financially independent.
“We empower B40 women in urban and suburban areas to get a job as a confinement lady. In addition, these ladies may have skills in terms of massage but they are not good at marketing their services. As a result, they find it hard to gain the customers’ trust. The customers will go to a platform such as PantangPlus.com to seek the confinement services they need,” explained Zamzana.
“We also had to do marketing for the platform, so we had to have a budget for advertising and also engage in networking,” she added.
Growing the Business
To grow her business, Zamzana joined the Pemangkin Usahawan Sosial Hebat (PUSH) programme, which was supported by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and 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 helped us to realign our business. We also had provisions to carry out marketing activities, including road tours. From there, we do therapist interviews, recruit therapists and announce suitable training programmes for therapists to strengthen their careers,” said Zamzana.
“During the interview, we ask them about their level of personal income and household income. We also want to know how they see themselves staying and growing in this industry. They have to be serious about it,” she added.
In 2020, PantangPlus.com sponsored 10 ladies for their Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia.
In 2021 and beyond, PantangPlus.com will still be recruiting therapists, especially from among the B40 community, and Zamzana hopes to achieve 500 therapists on the platform one day soon.
“Many confinement ladies are motivated to stay with our platform, because there is an opportunity to travel overseas on the request of customers there. We have had customers in Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Dubai. The confinement packages they chose will usually be for one month or one and a half months. In addition to purchasing the package, they will have to provide food and lodging and pay for the confinement lady’s airfare,” explained Zamzana.
Training More Therapists
“We want to train more women from the B40 community and we know we need to generate more job opportunities to match the skills that they have. In this regard, PUSH helped us to become more focused and more organised in our programmes,” said Zamzana.
Postnatal therapists need to undergo training and certification. Many have a massage or confinement certificate. Freelancers come on board with the understanding that they will have to pay for their own training. They start with Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (Level 3), then progress to Diploma Kemahiran Malaysia (Level 4).
“We organise courses three to four times a year. By 2024, we hope to get our all therapists certified under Traditional and Complimentary Medicine. I hope to open an academy to train postnatal therapists in the future,” said Zamzana.
Join PantangPlus.com as a Postnatal Therapist
During the pandemic, ladies who have just given birth cannot return back to their hometown due to the inter-district and inter-state travel bans. Therefore, they will need the services of confinement ladies nearest to their location. That is where PantangPlus comes in. Zamzana also expects business to improve after the pandemic, as she believes more babies will be coming along.
Zamzana would like to invite ladies who are unemployed, have been retrenched or laid off, or forced to go on unpaid leave to consider a new career as confinement ladies. Becoming a wellness practitioner can be the beginning of a better life and perhaps a more fulfilling one.
“There is a misconception that confinement ladies are old ladies. They are not all old. We hope to recruit ladies in their 30s to 40s,” explained Zamzana.
To find out more about the platform, book a confinement package or join the platform as a postnatal therapist, visit https://pantangplus.com/