If you want to do God’s work, you got to do it full time!
“That was what my business mentor has always advised me, ” Redza Shahid is grateful for his mentor’s profound thoughts about business. “Even in trying times, I remember that I will put in my best effort and persevere.”
As a boy, he was never afraid to ask for help. When he knew he wanted something done, he believes he can just ask. Help will come. “I grew up in Kluang, Johor. When I was eight, I was so bored being at home alone, I went out of the house and I got a guy to help me cross the road. There were monkeys across the road and I was afraid of monkeys so I got an elderly gentlemen to ‘protect’ me against the animals. I held on to him.”
Since seeking help has always been easy, Redza wants to help others in return. He has never been afraid of hard work. He was one of the employees who love to work extra hours. When he had nothing else to do, he spent his time with his basketball team and looked out to help in charity work or social experiment. That was where he met Hassan, the person who poked him the right question.
Once when Redza was working part time with Hassan, helping him to launch new projects, Redza was feeling a bit restless with his full time job in oil and gas. Even though Redza was getting a promotion, a bonus and salary increase, his energy was depleted. That was when Hassan popped the life changing question to him, “Are you happy?”
“That was when I decided to join Hassan who provides funds for startups. I helped to train the startups in finance and marketing. And as fate has it, one day, we were discussing some issues and Hassan planted the seed in me about social enterprise.” Redza smiled as he remembered the day of the discussion where the seed of the idea for Grub Cycle began to germinate.
Grub Cycle was established in June 2016. Redza met the team when they were helping out at an event for refugees. “I wanted to learn more about social enterprise, so I went to the British Council to learn to be a facilitator for social enterprise. That was where someone asked me if I was interested to join an accelerator program to validate and start my own social enterprise.” As if everything he wanted was already there, all he needed to do was to show up. And he did.
Redza worked hard at it and he presented several papers and proposals to the board. “I was having a few presentations and several proposals which I needed to table over a week’s time to a few investors. It was the most hectic week I have ever encountered.” Redza still felt the tension and the exhaustion. But Redza never gave up. Lack of sleep and bone tired, Redza persevered. Finally, they got a yes from Mountain Partner, a global company builder whose intention is to build international companies with Malaysian entrepreneurs.
“With Grub Cycle, we are trying to educate Malaysians on the ways to reduce food waste.” Redza tries to explain the concept of his social enterprise. In a nutshell, Grub Cycle buys the about-to-expire food products from supermarkets in town and sell them to their communities of concerned citizens the original food products at a fragment of the original price. For perishable foodstuff, Grub Cycle commissions homecooks to turn them into preserves or other condiments which they will sell them on their website and provide free delivery service.
“When we first started, we thought that our target customers will be those whose family income is under RM3,900 – The B40. Surprisingly, they are the ones who are more concerned about the brands than the change in their pockets.” Redza respected their choice. Once, Redza asked the lower income family if they will buy a loaf of bread (no brand) which cost even lesser from Grub Cycle or pay for a branded loaf of bread at its original price? The poor still chose the branded one.
“It is more about dignity. I guess that everyone looks at a brand differently and the choice we make, no matter what is our state of financial standing.” Redza said. “Now, our 700+ customers from our fan base in our social media platforms are telling us a different story. We need to re-strategize.” The B40 group won’t buy and the people who can afford won’t look into getting the cheaper foodstuff from Grub Cycle.
“In Europe and the USA, on the contrary, people from all walks of life shop at the specialty stores. They find it hip to be able to help the environment by cutting down food waste.” Redza explained. “The next strategy now is to educate our Malaysian public about food waste. Not just buying products.”
Grub Cycle is currently working towards convincing the Government to regulate food waste. Supermarkets can’t just dispose of expired foodstuff. General public, on the other hand, needs to be educated on the simple differentiation between expiry date and best- before date appeared on the products. On top of that, it is good to learn and teach our children the importance of food, be aware of food shortage and reducing food waste for a greener world.
“To help the poor, every month, we are providing the pantry essentials which we call it The Grub Bag. The bag consists of kitchen staples such as rice, salt, sugar, eggs and cooking oil which originally would have cost about RM30. The families are now getting this staples at only RM15.” The team from Grub Cycle delivers the kitchen staples to about 40 families every month. As customers of Grub Cycle, we are helping the team to achieve their target to serve more. These families may be a single parent family – a single mum with ten kids.
“What I want is to do good for the world. Helping people and helping the environment. First, no food waste. And for our future generations, to understand that when there are more food wasted, more forests are cleared.” Redza spoke from his heart. “I love hiking and camping, it would be a waste when kids in the future don’t get to enjoy nature as it is.”