Live Everyday With Purpose: Azilah's Story

Azila’s spina bifida story began while she was still in the womb, when her spine and spinal cord did not form properly. The condition has limited her mobility causing her to use a wheelchair since she was young. But instead of letting this affect her life, Azila persevered and managed to become a representative for the Malaysian Paralympic Ping Pong team. In between training sessions and family responsibilities, Azila runs a small tuition centre in her neighbourhood to supplement the family’s income. However, the long hours at practice, competitions, and fatigue put finding new and innovative ways to expand her business on the back burner. On top of that, her low self-esteem and fear of reaching out to prospective customers resulted in her once-thriving business becoming stagnant.

When Azila learned about the R.I.S.E. programme, the timing couldn’t have been better. She recognised this as an opportunity to revive her business and enrolled right away. Lessons from the Customer Analysis module taught her to set up fun and educational activities to increase student engagement. The strategy proved to be successful as more students signed up for her class. As word got out about Azila’s tuition service, she decided to branch out and offer individualised tutoring, which afforded her the ability to be flexible with her work schedule and charge higher rates.

While Azila is grateful for the entrepreneurial knowledge she gained from the R.I.S.E. programme, she is especially thankful for the immeasurable value of learning how to strengthen her mental health and improve her emotional well-being. Through the Awareness and Change module, for example, she learned how to turn negative thoughts into positive actions. These days, Azila is able to experience difficult emotions with compassion rather than always trying to run away from them.

The R.I.S.E. programme also taught Azila the importance of diversifying her revenue stream, instead of just relying on her tuition business as the primary source of income. Her newfound confidence has been an advantage, as it encourages her to turn her baking hobby into a side hustle. Azila worked hard to learn new baking recipes to fulfil her customer’s orders and attended several workshops to refine her techniques.