Special needs adults learn essential life skills while taking slice of the pie market

Stand Pie Me, a social enterprise that trains and employs young adults with special needs in food production, turns one on Malaysia Day.

Sarjit Singh, chairman of Persatuan Stand, said the organisation started its online business on the auspicious date as it is a day of unity for East and West Malaysians.

“Our initial plan was to start on Aug 31, but we decided on Malaysia Day to give us more time to prepare,” said Sarjit, who became Stand chairman in June 2020.

“We also felt Malaysia Day would be more meaningful, with the inclusion of East Malaysia.”

Business has been so good that Sarjit said they are looking for a new venue in Petaling Jaya to complement their kitchen in Taman OUG Parklane.

“We sell about 200 pies a day, and 60 per cent of our orders are from Petaling Jaya,” said Sarjit, a former air steward who had also worked in cafes and hotels.

“So, if we can find an outlet there, it will bring down the delivery charges for our customers. Although we sell many pies, we don’t make that much as our pies are the cheapest in the market.

“The reason for this is to get people to buy our products without feeling the pinch. And because they purchase a lot, it means our workers have more opportunity to perfect their skills.

“It’s a win-win situation.”

Sarjit explained that ‘Stand’ is an acronym for ‘skill, talent, acceptance, needs and destiny’ and was started in 2011 by Pastor Lee Hock Cheng at Full Gospel Assembly Church.

Initially, it employed special needs adults to do packaging – inserting straws for drinks and serviettes and sauces for takeaway meals for a drinks company and a fast food outlet.

Eventually, they discovered that some of them had hidden talents, and Persatuan Stand was formally established as a social enterprise in 2017 and moved out of the church to Taman OUG Parklane.

Sarjit came to know Pastor Lee after acquiring the skills to work with special needs children, as his son has dyslexia.

“I’m constantly learning special needs skills because of my son. People must understand that those with special needs are capable of doing anything. It is just that their thought processes are a little different.

“Some of them are quite brilliant and can pick up skills extremely fast.”

Sarjit said Stand had been serving private and home schools since 2017, until the Movement Control Order was introduced on March 18, 2020, to combat Covid-19.

“Schools were closed, and we had no income for over four months. That was when the idea of selling pies online came about,” said Sarjit.

“The reason we chose pies is that it is a structured way of cooking – first, the dough, then the filling, followed by the ceiling and finally, baking.

“As such, it was easier to teach the workers. We chose ‘Stand Pie Me’ for the brand as ‘Stand’ is the association, ‘pie’ is what we sell, and ‘me’ is the special needs adults.”

He added that they rotate the stations every couple of months, so that the workers have experience working at each end. The goal is for them to eventually work independently.

Sarjit and two others – Adam Khoo Teng Choon and Ho Lin Mur – have 11 special needs adults under their supervision. Sales come mainly from orders via Facebook and Instagram.

Tagged with: