Social Enterprise Training Barbers And Hairdressers

While hunting for lunch around Taman Tun during the RMCO, I came across a truck with big, bold letters that said “BARBER SHOP”. It is not something that I will see every day.

Curious, I did some research to find that it wasn’t just a man jostling from his truck, but a whole social enterprise was behind this Mobile Saloon.

A hair salon on wheels

He was founded by Yogendra Selvarajah (or Joe, as his peers call him) in 2018. As a self-taught businessman, he understood what it took to acquire the skills that enabled him to earn the courage to own and manage a business.

“After providing equipment for over 300 food trucks and researching this industry, I have found it very convenient to create a mobile hair salon,” he said.

“That’s because we don’t have to constantly supply materials for this business compared to food trucks, where you have to constantly buy and replenish supplies.”

Each truck is equipped with everything a hairdresser needs to serve their clients in comfort. It can accommodate a maximum of 2 people at a time, with tablets to display the announcements of their sponsors.

Besides providing young people with barbering skills, Joe also helps them learn how to become self-employed with the same role model.

Mobile salons are intended to provide a starting point for their graduate barbers to begin their own entrepreneurial journey with little capital.

Owning a fully equipped mobile salon is an investment of RM 170,000 which includes insurance, road tax, licenses, permits, etc., and each unit will also be reviewed quarterly for design changes, cost reduction and inflation initiatives.

Follow a paved road

I went to say hello

The training is provided to candidates of all sexes from all backgrounds. They just need to have a strong desire to learn the profession of barber or hairdresser. It’s a bonus if they also dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

These candidates will be enrolled as students in the 12 month Mobile Saloon training program. Afterwards, barbers will take business management courses to learn how to operate their own mobile barber truck.

Full scholarships are awarded to students who must also sign a bond of engagement to work with the company or their salon partners for a minimum of 24 months. If they leave early, they will have to pay a fee of RM6,500 to the company.

The trainers come from a few salons in KL and Selangor, namely Jay Hair Design, Andy Salon & Academy and Meylis Hair Salon. They will also offer internships or full-time employment opportunities in their physical stores.

To date, 9 barbers and hairdressers have come out of their first group and 30 more in training.

I like to label Mobile Saloon as a “business opportunity” type of business rather than a “business opportunity”. I am passionate about creating new job opportunities for the recently unemployed and young people entering the labor market. Starting the mobile hair salon is just the way to achieve this.

Yogendra Selvarajah, founder of Mobile Saloon.

Outstretched arm of a barber

More than providing employment opportunities for recent graduates, Joe said mobile hair salons can also be a profitable investment for existing hair salons.

“The mobile hair salon is a viable and sustainable business model, whether as a social enterprise or in the traditional sense. Investing in a Mobile Saloon truck is a relatively small capital expenditure, ”Joe said.

He explained that the rate of return for an investor is around 22% for the first 5 years. This amount can double once the financial commitments of the truck are repaid.

Since hairdressing graduates are assigned to mobile salons by the social enterprise, this eases the burden of hiring and finding replacement staff for investors. Therefore, stakeholders will be very close to the hairdressing salon as Mobile Saloon will manage all operations centrally.

However, Joe explained that the only effort expected from an investor is to generate word of mouth customer traffic to mobile hair salons.

Although operations and training are now halted by the AGC, there are 2 Mobile Saloon trucks in Klang Valley. Both units are owned by hair salon entrepreneurs looking to expand their existing businesses.

At the same time, they share Joe’s passion for creating jobs for local barbers and hairdressers in Malaysia.

  • You can read more about Mobile Saloon here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Mobile Saloon

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Jothi Venkat

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