The Sabah village homestay impressed the minister

Ewon (left) during his visit to Backyard Kokol.

KOTA KINABALU (July 24): The success of young entrepreneur Denny Julius Teo in transforming Backyard Kokol, an eco-tourism-based village homestay, into one of the attractive vacation spots outside the city of Kota Kinabalu, has caught the attention of the Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, Datuk Ewon Benedick.

Impressed by the dedication of the young entrepreneur from Tuaran, Ewon took the time to visit and personally inspect the homestay area.

Ewon’s visit, as both the Member of Parliament for Penampang and the State Assemblyman for Kadamaian, is aimed at appreciating the achievements and sacrifices of the young entrepreneur and providing advisory services to obtain appropriate financial assistance from the government, particularly from his ministry.

“I am proud of Denny’s success and I hope that it will inspire more people in Sabah, especially the youth, to venture into business in various fields. I took the time to personally inspect Backyard Kokol and found the eco-friendly village homestay venture to be very positive as it implements elements that help protect the environment.

“Backyard Kokol runs entirely on solar energy and gravity-fed water, set in a beautiful village setting with an incredible view,” he said.

Ewon mentioned that among the agencies under his ministry that provide financing to village homestay entrepreneurs are the Malaysian Cooperative Commission (MCC), National Entrepreneur Group Economic Fund (Tekun Nasional), Malaysian People’s Trust Foundation (Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia or AIM), SME Corp, and Bank Rakyat.

He suggested that Backyard Kokol entrepreneurs establish a family cooperative to facilitate them in getting suitable facilities from MCC.

According to him, there are currently 15,315 registered MCC cooperatives nationwide, of which 1,707 are in Sabah.

“This makes Sabah the second highest state in the number of cooperatives after Selangor. To encourage and facilitate the establishment of cooperatives, the MCC eased requirements, including reducing the minimum number of individuals to register a basic cooperative from 50 to 20 people.

“The ministry, through the MCC, has also improved the Cooperative Registration Guidelines (GP12) to provide guidance and procedures to the public for registering a cooperative,” he said.

Ewon added that with the existence of a cooperative, it will facilitate the acquisition of various facilities provided by the government through his ministry, sent through the MCC.

“For example, if they are running a restaurant business and they need to expand, they can get financing through MCC’s Revolving Capital Fund at a low interest rate,” he said.

Ewon hopes that the celebration of the National Cooperative Day (Hari Koperasi Negara or HKN) 2023, which was held on a large scale and for the first time in Sabah a few days ago, will raise awareness among the people of Sabah about the benefits of establishing cooperatives.

“July is National Cooperative Month and throughout this month, various events are held across the country to promote the cooperative movement, raise awareness, and recognize the contributions of cooperative members across the country.

“Through the programs conducted during the BKK celebration, we will be able to strengthen the cooperation of cooperatives throughout the country, as well as giving them the opportunity to sell or promote their products and services.

“I am confident that the number of cooperatives in our country, especially in Sabah, will increase after this,” he said.

Regarding the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Backyard Kokol, Ewon said one of the complaints of the young entrepreneur is the condition of the road leading to the accommodation center, which needs attention from the concerned authorities.

“The condition of the road leading to the accommodation center needs maintenance or upgrading. I hope the local leaders in this area will determine the need to provide a concrete road or at least carry out maintenance for the convenience of tourists coming to this area.”

Meanwhile, the manager and co-founder of Backyard Kokol, Denny, explained that the hilly and steep terrain of the area is one of the main challenges in building facilities there.

“The accommodation center was completely completed within a year, last year, and since it was opened to the public, many tourists, especially from other countries, have visited it.”

Denny, 28, added that before managing the homestay, he ran a restaurant in Tuaran that focused on traditional Kadazandusun cuisine.

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