MARANG, March 17 (Bernama) -- The majority of graduates majoring in Islamic Studies choose to become preachers or religious teachers, but Mohd Zulkifli Harun embarked on a different path which led him to become a successful coffee entrepreneur.
Keenly interested in business and entrepreneurship, Mohd Zulkifli, 41, dived headlong into the risk-taking venture.
"When I first started in the business, I was insulted and even scolded by a few shop owners who did not want me to sell my products in their premises,” he told Bernama when met at his factory in the industrial area here, recently.
"It was all these challenges that eventually gave me the determination to build my own business empire," he said.
Mohd Zulkifli, who holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), said his business acumen was inherited from his late-father, Harun Mansor who used to own an eatery in Kampung Losong, Kuala Terengganu.
"While in primary school, I had already started helping my father in his business. My interest in it continued when I was a student at UniSZA, as I sold various items to my friends," he said.
Recollecting the early days of his business, Mohd Zulkifli, who is also the managing director of GLE Centre Sdn Bhd said he started the coffee business with a RM20,000 loan from Agrobank in 2008, after finishing his studies at UniSZA.
At the same time, he faced several difficult challenges because he had to divide his time between his business and duties as a Fardu Ain Basic Class (KAFA) teacher at Yayasan Terengganu.
"It was tiring in the early days as I did the production to marketing, which I handled with the help of only two workers.
"Every morning, I would be at the factory to manage production while in the afternoon I taught KAFA. After teaching, I would go to the shops in the village to sell coffee until 3 am, then I can go home," he said.
Mohd Zulkifli's sacrifices paid off as his coffee products are well-received by consumers, and he has 17 types of products including goat’s milk, cocoa drinks and premium Cappuccino items.
Mohd Zulkifli said each month, his company produces 20,000 to 25,000 boxes of coffee and other beverage products that are available in grocery store chains nationwide.
"Alhamdulillah, I now have 18 employees, all locals. Our sales also reached RM2.3 million last year.
"This year, I expect sales to increase to RM3.5 million as the company has introduced a new system for agents and drop shipping to generate more funds," said Mohd Zulkifli, adding that he also sponsors the Terengganu Football Club (TFC) and Terengganu Hockey Team (THT).
Mohd Zulkifli said he plans to penetrate the market in Makassar and Padang, Indonesia next year.
"We used to send coffee and goat milk products there, and Alhamdulillah the response was very encouraging.
"But due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) then, we had to stop for a while but InsyaAllah we may resume next year after the related documents are in order," he added.
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