Couple quit jobs to fly with hawker dream thanks to programme
A year ago, 35-year-old Michelle Yee Wen Lee used to work nine-to-five days as an office manager.
But her daily routine changed after she and her 38-year-old field engineer husband took a leap of faith and quit their full-time jobs to become hawkers.
Today, they run a popular stall in Smith Street selling Hakka dishes and handmade yong tau foo. Ms Yee and her husband are a success story from the National Environment Agency's Incubation Stall Programme for hawkers.
Since its launch in February last year, 60 applicants have applied to set up hawker stalls. Of them, 20 stallholders were successful in their applications.
Two stallholders have stayed the course since they joined the programme on July 1 last year. Ms Yee is one of them.
She and her husband have applied to "graduate" and become permanent stallholders on their Chinatown premises.
"I was tired of working at a normal job, and I wanted to get my passion back and do something meaningful for myself," Ms Yee said.
She told The Straits Times the programme gave her the chance to build her career as a hawker without being overly burdened by worries of failure.
Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor on Monday announced further rebates for the programme.
New stallholders who join it will now receive a 25 per cent rental rebate on the stalls for six months. This is on top of a measure that offers new stallholders a 50 per cent rental rebate for nine months. Altogether, the rebates give hawkers in the scheme a discount of $412 to $720 on rent every month, for a 15-month period.
Said Dr Khor: "We will extend the incubation stall period by another six months, providing stallholders with further rental rebates."
She was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural Hawkers' Seminar at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar, where 27 hawkers were recognised for their success and contributions.
Ms Yee, Ms Pamela Loh, 33, and Mr Ivan Seow Kok Heng, 37, were among the recipients of the Promising New Hawker Award at the event on Monday.