Innumerable industries across the world have been severely hit by the unprecedented impacts of Covid-19. From aviation, to tourism, and dining, these industries have barely stayed afloat through aid from international governments and innovative business remodeling. However there is one community that is predominantly unique to Southeast Asia, more specifically, Singapore.
Last year, Today Online reported a 50% plunge in business for local hawkers due to the novel Covid-19 outbreak, though even before then these professionals have always struggled to make ends meet through working at least 10 hours a day, with no weekends, and perhaps one public holiday. Typically, hawkers in Singapore do not enjoy bonuses or the liberty of sick leave, at the risk of losing significant income.
As such, Singapore food critic K.F. Seetoh recently implored Singaporeans to support and patronise these “silent sufferers” during Phase 2. In a post on Facebook, he said, “They still sit there with all their food nicely laid out and prettily lit, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Permanent closure.” Like K.F. Seetoh, many believe that hawker culture is one of Singapore’s most distinct and unique features which should be protected and supported at all costs. Luckily for them, there are now several social media accounts dedicated to preserving and promoting these businesses.
Offering takeaway inspired by elderly hawkers around Singapore, this Instagram page aims to spotlight deserted old-school businesses suffering under the new Phase 2 dine-in restrictions. Beyond posting profiles, the account is currently crowdsourcing for stories, by posting suggestions by its followers to further promote as many heritage hawker stalls as possible.
As an increasing number of businesses take the leap of faith into the virtual sphere, many technologically disadvantaged or illiterate hawkers are struggling to survive during this stay-home period. To help raise awareness for these brick-and-mortar businesses, @savetheelderlyhawkers is an Instagram page dedicated to crowdsourcing information and listings from fellow Singaporeans.
Another crowdsourcing account available on Instagram is @wejiaklocal. Aggregating reviews and shoutouts to local F&B businesses, especially for those without a digital presence, @wejiaklocal aims to present a comprehensive directory of local businesses in Singapore, conveniently segmented by neighbourhoods.
SG Hawkers United
SG Hawkers United is a collaborative Facebook page, initially established in 2020 during the Circuit Breaker period. Dedicated to providing a platform for local hawkers, regular Singaporeans, and other small businesses to share their products, interesting finds, and call to action announcements – this page is free for all to post and linked to a variety of other groups including SG Food United, Stay Home Makan SG, and SG Food Order.
Support Local Hawkers
While SG Hawkers United is simply a sharing platform, its subsidiary page ‘Support Local Hawkers’ allows members to sell products directly through Facebook, by creating the post. This not only simplifies each business owner’s transition to the virtual sphere but allows customers greater access to their favourite food, whilst discovering new local stalls. While page membership is as easy as the click of a button, non-members are also granted free access to viewing and are invited to place their orders through the platform’s specific posts.
For the individuals who wish to support local businesses but are not active on Instagram and Facebook, Hawkers United is a free for all to join telegram group which sheds light on local hawkers, suppliers, promotions, and other small businesses in Singapore. The group also shares skill improvement courses, and job opportunities for those who are new to the market or interested in mid-career changes.