PETALING JAYA: They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going – and many are taking on the adverse economy head-on by launching new businesses, especially in the food and beverage (F&B) sector.

These newcomers are mainly young professionals and entrepreneurs, although there are some retirees as well, said Malaysia Specialty Coffee Association Selangor Chapter chairman Yip Leong Sum.

She said new cafes are mushrooming in the Klang Valley over the past two years, attributing this partly to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, while noting that many businesses had previously shut down as well.

To address challenges such as inflation and the rising cost of raw ingredients, Yip said some owners were using their own funds to sustain their business.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) SMEs committee chairman Koong Lin Loong said more unemployed people had been venturing into the F&B sector.

These people were willing to take risks by partnering with their friends to start a business after failing to find suitable jobs during the lockdowns, he added.

“Typically, once these people get a taste of being their own boss, they wouldn’t want to return to being a regular nine-to-five employee working for someone else,” Koong said.

A majority of these new business owners were young people, he added.

Despite inflation and the higher cost of raw materials, he said that most of the new cafes and restaurants were performing well due to current social trends as people recover from the social deprivation caused by the lockdowns.

“Establishments like these will transfer the rising costs to consumers in the form of high prices.

“However, due to the trend of posting pictures of their meals on social media, most people are willing to pay the high prices at these establishments just for the unique experience of eating there so that they can have bragging rights,” said Koong.

Furthermore, he said people value being able to gather with their friends again after being in self-isolation during the pandemic.

“As such, they treat these gatherings as a special event on which they don’t mind splurging their money,” said Koong.

Last month, Johor Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin was quoted as saying that youth who preferred being their own bosses had set up many trendy cafes and restaurants in the state.

He estimated that it costs around RM500,000 to RM700,000 to open up a cafe.