Adversity is a common nemesis in business. Ironically, it could also be the enabler for a business to flourish, if the entrepreneur knows how to endure it. For S. Muhammad Gadaffi, Founder and Chairman of Jamu Mak Dara Sdn Bhd, a rough start in life has taught him incomparable lessons, moulding him into a resilient and enduring entrepreneur. Speaking to Top 10 of Malaysia, Gadaffi touches on his experiences with adversity and how it helped bring Jamu Mak Dara to the forefront of the traditional health industry.
Muhammad Gadaffi’s exuberant and friendly persona welcomes those willing to listen to his story, which he shares in hopes of inspiring others. Growing up, Gadaffi was raised in a single parent household by his beloved mother, Ibu Halimah who is the current face of Jamu Mak Dara. Life was not easy as Gadaffi used to sell kuih muih made by his mother from the age of ten so they could make a living.
As Gadaffi grew older, he tried a variety of odd jobs to help his mother out, like working at supermarkets and night markets to name a few. These experiences exposed him to business early on and taught him plenty, including the ability to speak fluently in Cantonese. “I love to explore new things. Perhaps that is why I end up doing so many things as a young person,” chuckles Gadaffi.
When dealing with life’s adversities, his mother served as his pillar of strength and a role model. “She would do anything for our survival back then. As a child, I really admired her perseverance and willpower,” he shares proudly. Life’s ups and downs have shown them many lessons, particularly that of survival, having been apart for a few years. However, in 1994, Gadaffi finally had enough resources to rent a house and decided to settle down with his mother.
They continued selling home-cooked food and snacks to offices, a small endeavour that eventually grew into a catering business. Nevertheless in 2005, Jamu Mak Dara came into the picture when people started asking how Ibu Halimah was able to stay beautiful and energetic, even as she was approaching 60 years of age. She then decided to share her secret, a recipe of traditional herbs passed down by her own mother, which she has been consuming since young. This triggered a huge response among close friends and family members, prompting Gadaffi and his mother to start producing more of the products and taking in pre-orders.
Now, even after 10 years, Jamu Mak Dara continues to grow admirably. “I never thought it could be this huge. We had competitors even in the early days but we have gained trust and acceptance from consumers appreciating our ingenuity,” says Gadaffi. Currently a multi-million ringgit business, the brand carries 26 traditional health and wellbeing products with the original concoction being one of the customers’ favourites.
“Our products have helped countless women solve their feminine health issues,” shares Gadaffi. His motivation to push forward lies in his past. “I survived the worst days of my life. From that I know I will be able to face the challenges of today,” he said.
When asked of his future plans for Jamu Mak Dara, Gadaffi shares that he aspires to build a legacy out of Jamu Mak Dara where the brand continues to stand strong even without his presence. “To achieve that I need to be proactive, continue learning about business and work even harder,” he says. Gadaffi believes that courage is an all-important factor for young aspiring entrepreneurs to achieve success. “Be brave, move out of your comfort zone and face your challenges. Hardships can actually make you stronger, so endure and keep trying.”