Written by Graig Nunis from Twentytwo13
It isn’t every day that two childhood friends remain best buddies, even when they are in their 30s and go on to build a social enterprise.
But that is the case of Amir Omar Anuar and Lam Min Yong.
The duo met 18 years ago in Form 1 at Sri KDU and have been inseparable – even when they were in other parts of the world to further their education.
“We have always found a way to keep in touch. Even when Lam was studying in Canada and I, in the UK, and then Australia, we used to Skype each other,” said Amir.
“When Lam moved to Australia to continue with his studies, he stayed with me for a semester in Perth before going on to Sydney.”
Lam and Amir couldn’t put their finger on what made them ‘click’, as they have contrasting tastes in music, food and movies.
But they do share the same values, principles and beliefs of a strong family bond.
They also love coffee and talking for hours at Mamak restaurants.
“We can talk to each other about anything and for long hours. We have the patience to put up with each other’s ‘nonsense’. We may have different interests, but we did play loads of online games and paintball,” said Lam.
“When we were studying overseas, during our holidays, whoever was in Malaysia first, would pick the other up at the airport, drive to that person’s parents’ home, drop off the bags and head straight to the nearest eatery.
“That was a ritual we have followed until Covid-19 put a stop to it.”
While hanging out over some food and drinks, the duo often discussed business ideas.
At times, Amir’s twin, Aiman Ahmad, would join them.
“They were always planning their great enterprise, and even from back then, it was not just about making money,” recalled Aiman.
“They were always thinking about how they could help the marginalised and underprivileged communities.
“So, in a way, their new social enterprise – Tumboh – is the fulfilment of those dreams.”
Amir and Lam are the co-founders of Tumboh, with the former, the chief executive officer, and the latter, the chief operating officer.
Aiman helps out as the resident baker and communications and community manager.
“Initially, we decided to sell hand sanitisers as there was a shortage in the early days of Covid-19,” said Amir.
“But it took us a year to get the product approved as we wanted everything to be by the book.
“Most sanitiser bottles are boring, and some don’t smell nice. We have come up with some nice packaging and have two scents – lime and lavender – that come in either 60ml misty spray or 500ml gel.
“We also produce three-ply face masks and a hand-made bag that is a collaboration with Kommuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ).”
That collaboration contributed over RM5,000 to KTJ’s community of underprivileged women.
Their products are also available on online shopping platforms, Shopee and Lazada.
Tumboh – which means growth – was formed in July, and the duo are donating RM23,000 worth of products to Need to Feed the Need (NFN).
Besides donating 384 bottles of hand sanitiser, 1,750 packets of face masks, Tumboh will also contribute earnings from the sale of their hand sanitisers and no-sugar-added granola to NFN.
“Our dream is to become big enough so we can employ the underprivileged to work for us. But, for now, we try to do what we can to help them,” said Amir.