BACHOK 4 November 2023 I The third child of a gardener received Anugerah Kecemerlangan Tajaan Industri during the 13th Universiti Malaysia Kelantan Convocation Ceremony at Dewan Tuanku Canselor (DTC), UMK Bachok, Kelantan, today.
Muhammad Zulhilmi Sidek, 24, a graduate of the Bachelor of Interior Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics (FSE), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), received the Anugerah Pelajar Kreatif Arkitek Mohd Asri, sponsored by Masa Arkitek.
He is grateful that his determination to help change his family's difficult life has finally paid off. Despite the family's financial constraints, Muhammad Zulhilmi has successfully proven that family poverty can be a driving force for his success today.
Alhamdulillah, today's success is the result of his efforts to study diligently to repay his mother's hard work in supporting and raising him and his siblings.
According to Muhammad Zulhilmi, his family relies solely on his mother, Sulaini Binti Musa, 59, who works as a general worker (gardener) with an income of RM1500, while his father is no longer working due to age factors, being 74 years old.
"My eldest sister is a housewife, while my second sister works as an engineer in a factory. My younger brother is still studying for a Bachelor's degree at Universiti Malaysia Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah (UMPSA), and my youngest sister will continue her studies for a diploma at Kolej Poly-Tech MARA (KPTM).
"The family's situation became the catalyst that drove me to study hard so that I could help the family and repay their kindness," he said.
Muhammad Zulhilmi has been resourceful since childhood, earning money by collecting scrap metal with his father for sale.
"The income from selling scrap metal were what sustained our family's livelihood. My siblings and I have been receiving various assistance since primary school.
“Every time there were aid or donations at school, our names were always listed first because we were considered a needy family.
"I still remember various forms of assistance received, such as tithe, duit raya, early schooling assistance, household necessities, and much more," he said.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Zulhilmi was determined not to burden his family and admitted to having an interest in entrepreneurship since childhood.
He started a business selling snacks like Apollo and colourful chocolates since primary school.
"After that, I continued buying and selling used phones online during high school for quite a long period and received many requests.
"I had to do this business because with the profits, I could cover my daily expenses and have personal savings. At that time, it was tough, and I needed money for expenses," he said.
According to Muhammad Zulhilmi, his business began to grow when he started a fashion business, specifically selling Muslim men's clothing or kurta when he pursued his diploma studies.
"I gained a lot from this kurta business at that time because there was still no competition. It all started while I was collecting some money as the capital to initiate a slightly large-scale business.
"One day, I was looking for a jubah to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri. However, I found that the jubah in the market were of low quality and come in unattractive design.
"From there, I was inspired to start a business by selling unique and high-quality jubah," he said.
In 2021, Muhammad Zulhilmi successfully established a company called Al Kahfi Exclusive Venture, registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).
"Even though I am still studying, it does not stop me from doing all the work, including the process of producing the jubah from A to Z, with wholesale fabric purchases, finding tailors, taking client orders, and designing my own packaging boxes until the jubah is sewn and the process of delivering customer orders.
“For promotion, I use social media on Facebook, Instagram, Shopee, and TikTok. Besides focusing on the business, I also actively participate in entrepreneurship programmes and competitions organised at the university level as well as industry-sponsored events," he said.
Furthermore, the winnings from that competition became his business capital, and after a year of successful operation, the company continued to thrive even though he was still a final-year student at UMK.
“Alhamdulillah, the company's profits have reached sales of over RM25,000.00 within a year, despite only selling men's jubah.
"I can't believe it myself because the subjects in architecture are not easy, as they require focus and sincere effort to become a committed architecture student.
"However, I always remind myself that the success I have achieved is actually due to the prayers and the blessings of my parents and teachers. They are the ones who fervently pray for my success until today. I am grateful to have parents who are always there for me. I always pray to take my parents for Umrah. InshaAllah, I hope my dream will come true one day," he said.