Petite in stature but big on personality, Hasbah Juwaini, 37, was an absolute delight. As a financial expert, striking a conversation with the Alfalah founder can be intensely engaging as Hasbah certainly knows her way around when it comes to wealth management. Driven by achieving results, Hasbah progressed through her second business, Tokda Halal Food Manufacturing which is now known to be one of the key players in the halal OEM business in the country. Two nature of businesses, one big concept. “We can’t just sit and wait for opportunities to come. Get up and make them!” Hasbah radiates good energy from every words uttered.
THE CONCEPT OF MONEY
Always been regarded as a high achiever since young, this MRSM alumnus got her first degree in biomedical from UKM at the age of 22. Diverting from biomedical to business, Hasbah earned her Master’s degree in business and now pursuing a PhD – also in business.
Prior to landing the lecturing job at the Health Ministry, she soon realized her true calling. “I was genuinely super impressed after watching my friends and colleagues ran their own businesses while completing their MBAs. Soon after, I too went into business while still coping with my studies. Making money is easy, really…as I realized that anyone can start a business as long as you have the right knowledge and of course, determination. You can learn all the theories and understand the concept down to the core, but practicing it is a different story.”
Hasbah came from a family of entrepreneurs. One of her sister is an aesthetic doctor who founded Anggun Medi-Klinik, another sister runs a spa and the other also provides financial consultation just like Hasbah. She reminisced her early days, eager to try new things by experimenting the theories with several businesses. “Just name it… I’ve opened a tuition centre, ran a restaurant, beauty products, online businesses – you name it! Haha! Not everything worked out as I planned but that’s the thrill of it. So I keep trying. Consistency is key. With doa, believe me someday you will achieve the goal… it’s just a matter of which one hits the mark.” More than a decade ago, Hasbah moonlights as a part-time financial consultant. Once the net profit hit by the millions, the mother of three finally decided to go fulltime, set up Alfalah and the rest is history.
“In my years of providing financial consultations and rearranging assets, I met many entrepreneurs who gave up after years of trying. In the end of the day, it’s a question of rezeki. Don’t lose hope, just be smart about it. Do a thorough research on the market, see if there’s a demand and find out what triggers the market. If there’s no demand, don’t waste time and change the product. Even during the pandemic, our business grows more than a 100 percent as food is essential and people still look for financial advices and smart investments.” In today’s economy, what is the best investment right now? “I honestly think we all should invest in ourselves. Invest in knowledge and skills. Education shapes our mentality and our future depends on it.”
Hasbah dares to fail and she’s get back up every time she meets an obstacle. “After nearly 22 years in business, once you get a taste of success, no challenges are too great anymore. It all becomes a part of the game. People once told me that I was too ‘soft’. Now they see me as a different person. Firmer, tougher. I guess it’s all the experiences that were building up inside made me are what made me who I am today.” When things are not looking up, Hasbah would ponder upon inspirational quotes, motivational books and videos by successful businesspersons from Jack Ma to Warren Buffet. “They all have one similarity and that is a strong mindset.”
“Today’s trend where entrepreneurs showing off their riches on Instagram just for the sake of gaining followings is just very sad. This whole circus created a new culture of flaunting achievements through materialism, even if in reality the luxury cars and designer bags are merely rentals.” As a financial consultant, Hasbah would personally advice to not splurge on something when you just have enough. “The feeling of freedom of spending without the feeling of burden, yes it’s the best. But we need to have check and balance and see if our financial status allows us to spend as much. Never let lifestyle sabotage your future. And like everyone else, I do have my guilty pleasures… RM20,000 for a designer bag, luxury cars. But in comparison with the income that I brought in, I make sure it’s lesser than 10 percent.”
Once again Hasbah emphasizes on education. “Local entrepreneurs prefer to attend talks that cost a bomb instead of investing in proper education. That money is better spent on enrolling into universities for short courses or online degrees. Listening to talks is good to motivate oneself, but never for real success. You still need to educate yourself. Proper business courses will train you professionally in finance, risk management, trading, behavior intelligence and so on. The problem with most entrepreneurs today is that they are impatient and insist on fast results. This is already a mistake that will result in failure from the start.” Hasbah now also holds a position in MSU as a mentor for an entrepreneur program. “The golden rule is the right mindset trait to cultivate success.”
HALAL FOOD MANUFACTURER
Equipped with her strong background in biomedical and business, Hasbah Juwaini managed to bring a more-diverse functional and industry experience into her next venture. As her thesis for Master’s degree was on halal food, her current doctoral study in PhD is also focusing on the same subject. “With a more extensive research, I was convinced that halal food business is the next big thing.” Hasbah created her own halal food brand, Tokda, offering a selection of popular traditional Malay cuisines from rendang, kerutuk to pekasam. Having a full team stationed at Tokda’s factory in Seremban has enables the brand to upsell be it online or offline.
“To be honest, revenue from retail is smaller in comparison to the manufacturing side of the business since we control the costing.” Despite the fact that Tokda is fast becoming a well known brand among the locals, Hasbah saw a boundless potential as she focuses on the core business where she provides services to mostly IKS businesses (Small and Medium Industries). “Every day we get so many messages from budding food entrepreneurs, as well as welcoming many walk-ins wanting to check our factory and facilities. We offer them advice and solutions. From start till end, Tokda Halal Food Manufacturing does everything for them – joint monitoring from acquiring halal certificates, dealing with labs for nutritional facts to packaging.” You can check on some packaging by famous brands where several of them are developed and manufactured by Tokda.
Having years of expertise in delivering quality halal manufacturing, Hasbah Juwaini hopes to someday contribute to the halal industry as an international speaker. “As halal awareness is on the rise, conferences are held on the global stages discussing about international markets like the US and UK. From food to cosmetics, halal is simply about cleanliness, hygiene and quality. I was at the Thai Halal Assembly held in Bangkok in 2019 and the halal concept was perceived as somewhat prestigious.”
As the Managing Director of Tokda, Hasbah is very hands on when it comes to securing new clientele especially involving the market’s big players. However, she admits that her time is mostly spent at her financial consultation firm as being present is very important. “The factory and my other office are just five minutes away from home. My kids are aged 13, 11 and 5; so I’m lucky in a sense that I can be near to them despite juggling two businesses at a time.” Time management is important for a career woman like Hasbah who’s always on the go. On weekdays, she makes sure everyone’s back at home by 7pm, have dinner together and weekends are strictly for family time. As a mother, she leads by example and her children are straight A students.
Before we end the interview, Hasbah shared her gratitude about every blessing that she got right after started her business. “I’ve never thought I’d be in this position but it is everything that I’d prayed for my whole life. I recite my doa daily, I write my goals and affirmations. Eventually everything became a reality. I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband and family. Seeing my children living a good life, getting the best education make every sacrifice made worth it. God is great.”