M’sian Social Enterprise Training B40 Youth As Agropreneurs

“Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you will feed him all his life” is a life motto lived by the family of agronomists behind Sulaiman Plantation and the CocoJack initiative. .

CocoJack is a social enterprise that helps B40 youth to learn and venture into farming with a focus on agritech, which is the family’s way of giving back to the community through the plantation that helps them fed well.

As a serial entrepreneur, Syed Sulaiman was a cafe owner and chili paste maker before CocoJack. In 2006, his entrepreneurial intuition told him that farming would be the next big thing in the future, so he immediately got to work on it and founded Sulaiman Plantation, a mini estate for dwarf coconuts (better known as kelapa pandan locally).

Jackfruit and his son entered the picture

When his coconut business took off, Syed Sulaiman then introduced jackfruit to this plantation. Coconuts and jackfruit are the main crops on the plantation, mainly because they are the easiest to manage and at the same time their demand is high in Kedah and Pulau Pinang, the former is their headquarters.

When Jackfruit became a profitable business, Syed Sulaiman handed the plantation over to his son, Syed Salleh, who later came up with the name and initiative CocoJack (a marriage of the names of their main crops). As of now, they have 2 farms in Kedah that total up to 13 acres which are home to their main crops, as well as chilli and ginger.

When Syed Salleh (who we will now call Syed) took over the plantation, he had no idea what he was getting himself into, as he had a degree in marketing and at most was only helping his parents to maintain the plantation. closed.

However, he researched government programs providing young people with agricultural training, many of which are run by SME Corp like The Entrepreneur TV3, which he won in 2016.

Syed also later looked for a mentor who was doing well in the agricultural sector and worked with his mentor’s company for 3 years as an agricultural assistant, then rose to an administrative assistant and associate position. thereafter. In 2019, he returned to his father’s plantation and took over the business completely.

“I went through a period when no one wanted to help me during my difficulties in starting my agricultural project, which is the main reason I started this initiative,” Syed told Vulcan Post.

He invested RM150k to RM200k as initial capital for this initiative, but it is now also funded by their partners like PETURA, their own Sulaiman Plantation and even KBS.

The CocoJack Heroes program

Now the social enterprise part of their plantation is called CocoJack, which allows interested B40 youth to register for the program and participate in a bootcamp. Their bootcamp includes courses on hydroponics, fertigation, conventional farming, agribusiness, pitching sessions, and more.

25 people are selected for each session, and only 5 participants will be selected to follow their agropreneur training from 3 to 6 months. On the positive side, the rest of the 20 participants who were not selected can also get help from them to get farming solutions and advice on their own farming projects.

The 5 participants selected as CocoJack Heroes will be sent to various courses and seminars related to agriculture and business development, and they will also be exposed to the life of an agronomist with their farms.

Once their training is complete, they will be offered an offer to officially join CocoJack for contract employment.

During this training period, these 5 participants can expect to receive an income of RM800 to RM1200 per month. When they formally work as agronomists on their own farming projects, they can expect to earn around RM1800-2500 per month.

As this is a social enterprise, beneficiaries who are part of their in-kind contribution program will be required to contribute 10-15% of their profits to CocoJack, depending on the scale of the projects entrusted to them.

Syed also explained that they usually advise their CocoJack heroes to earn a fixed income from their projects even if their projects generate more profit in a particular season.

“In our CocoJack module, we not only teach our beneficiaries how to plant a tree, we also teach them about supply chains. Our module is designed to provide advice from production to direct sale, as well as setting up a farm. CocoJack Heroes can also choose which process they want to focus on first instead of wasting time trying each step. “

“Let’s say if a CocoJack Hero wants to focus on setting up a farm and selling inputs, they can choose to set up their own online store to sell it directly to end users and customers. Our main goal here is to make sure that our beneficiaries are able to generate income not only through planting, ”said Syed.

Agritech behind their work

Besides hydroponics and fertigation, CocoJack also uses these other agro-technologies to train their beneficiaries:

  • Startup Kapitani’s accounting application to record agricultural expenses;
  • A CocoJack planting schedule to help record farming activities, tree tagging, smoking, spraying pesticides, which they are still developing;
  • And a smart labeling system to help farmers enter the number of fruit a tree produces.
Syed Salleh on the farm / Image credit: CocoJack

Syed credits the intensive use of agritech in their initiative to make agriculture “sexier” for young people who have always seen this career path with traditional agriculture represented in their heads, making them less interested to become an agronomist.

“I hope our CocoJack heroes will be able to fend for themselves to generate income for their families. I also hope that CocoJack Heroes will be able to provide more employment opportunities to the locals and be the changing agents who are reshaping our agricultural industry, ”Syed told Vulcan Post.

“I believe that our young people are able to revolutionize our agricultural industry and help our country achieve food security, and at the same time reduce youth unemployment in Malaysia.”

Syed Salleh, founder of CocoJack

  • You can find out more about CocoJack here.
  • You can read more agrotech articles than we wrote here.

Featured Image Credit: Syed Salleh, Founder of CocoJack

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