Love for ‘gula apong’ ice cream turns housewife into successful entrepreneur

Love for ‘gula apong’ ice cream turns housewife into successful entrepreneur

 

PUTRAJAYA,. During her two-year stay in Bintulu, Sarawak, Perlis-born Siti Fatimah Adnan became a firm fan of aiskrim gula apong, a hugely popular dessert in the Land of the Hornbills.

When she returned to her village in Perlis in 2014, she went in search of her favourite ice cream but found none.

She then decided to make her own aiskrim gula apong to fulfil her longing and even went on to create a thriving business out of the delicacy.

Today, the housewife-turned-entrepreneur has 85 outlets all over the country offering delicious aiskrim gula apong to customers who share her love for this particular treat.

Its special ingredient is gula apong, a type of palm sugar made from the sap of the nipah palm (Nypa fruticans) that grows abundantly along the river banks in Sarawak, particularly in the areas of Kota Samarahan and Betong, and is naturally sweet and creamy and has its own distinctive aroma.

“When I was in Bintulu, it was easy for me to get aiskrim gula apong. When I returned to Perlis, I longed to eat this delicacy but couldn’t find any as it was not sold in the peninsula.

“So I hit on the idea of making my own gula apong ice-cream,” the owner of Mokti’s Ice Cream told Bernama in an interview here recently.

Siti Fatimah and husband Pengiran Muhammad Adil pose in front one of their outlets. – Bernama photo

Encouraging response

Recalling how she got her aiskrim gula apong venture off the ground four years ago, Siti Fatimah, 31, said she first attended an ice cream making course to learn the basics and then experimented with making her own version of the famous Sarawak dessert.

“I would get my relatives to try out my ice cream and get their feedback before I mustered the confidence to sell my product to the public,” she said.

She then opened a small shop, measuring 10 feet by 12 feet, beside a convenience store in a busy area in Jejawi, Perlis, where she plied her ice cream business.

“I didn’t even have a brand name for my ice cream then. To get my business going, I tried selling my soft-serve aiskrim gula apong priced at RM2 a cup… I just wanted to introduce the local community to the deliciousness of this particular ice cream,” said the mother-of-three who has a degree in Technology and Plantation Management from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

To her delight, her strategy of setting up an ice cream outlet in a bustling location paid off as her special home-made ice cream received an encouraging response from the public.

In 2019, Siti Fatimah officially launched her ice cream brand, Mokti’s Ice Cream, the brand name coined by her nickname Mok Fatimah given to her by her husband’s family who is from Sarawak.

The same year, the enterprising woman gradually expanded her business to other states, among them being Kedah, Selangor, Perak, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

“I struggled quite a bit in the first two years after I embarked on my ice cream business but with the help of my husband (Pengiran Muhammad Adil Awang Iskaderzulkarnain, 33) and other family members, I now have 85 Mokti’s Ice Cream outlets throughout the country,” she said, adding that she has also franchised her business to other interested entrepreneurs.

Three factories

All three products – stick ice-cream, soft-serve ice-cream and gelato ice-cream – sold under the Mokti’s Ice Cream brand are produced in three factories in Perlis owned by Siti Fatimah.

“We only use gula apong (95 per cent) which we bring in from Sarawak and milk (five per cent) to make our range of ice creams as we want to retain the original taste of the Sarawak delicacy.

“We don’t use any white sugar or even add vanilla flavouring to our ice cream,” she pointed out, adding that her three factories utilise about 20 tonnes of gula apong every month to churn out the ice creams.

Meanwhile, last October, Siti Fatimah opened her first premium Mokti’s Ice Cream outlet in Langkawi that offers 12 flavours not available at her other outlets nationwide.

She intends to expand her premium ice cream range to Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.

Siti Fatimah and husband Pengiran Muhammad Adil pose in front one of their outlets. – Bernama photo

Last month, Mokti’s Ice Cream was among the recipients of the BrandLaureate Bumiputera BestBrands Awards 2022.

“This is our ticket to take our brand to the international stage as the award is a boost for Mokti’s Ice Cream’s reputation,” said Siti Fatimah who received the Outstanding Young Woman Entrepreneur Award 2022 at the Sabah International Women Entrepreneurs Expo held recently.

— Bernama

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