M Karthigeyan used to run a cleaning and maintenance business for 10 years, until the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown threw derailed his livelihood.

But instead of giving up and relying on government handouts, the 36-year-old is intent on rising back up, with a totally different business model - selling chicken briyani for just RM3 a packet!

Astro Ulagam recently spoke to Karthigeyan to find out his story.

"My business really slowed down when the pandemic hit. That's when I decided to get into the food and beverage business.

"I invested almost all my life savings to rent a shop in Plaza Ampang Jaya, to run a shellout restaurant," he recalled.

This turned out to be a misstep, as the business hardly took off, due to the remote location, coupled with the lockdown. He even tried doing shellout delivery service, which briefly sold out during the fasting month and Hari Raya, but then went flat again.

When the government announced that it would provide license for micro-traders under the Prihatin scheme last year, Karthigeyan decided to jump on the bandwagon and applied for a license to run his briyani stall.

His application was approved by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall just five days after he applied and he set up his first stall in front of a convenience store near the YMCA building in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Business here was slow as well.

Karthigeyan had to apply for another license to relocate to his current spot in front of another convenience store in the nearby Little India.

His RM3-a-packet "Vera Level Briyani Bungkus" contains rice, a piece of chicken, gravy and a small slice of egg. He opens stall from 12.30pm to 4.30pm six days a week, and on Mondays to Fridays, he sells up to 60 packets a day, while on Saturdays, he can clear up to 100 packets.

The stall also serves sotong, mutton, prawn and crab briyani on selected days.

Karthigeyan's wife cooks the briyani at their home in Ampang before it is transported to be sold in Brickfields.

With his three months license set to expire on Apr 15 this year, Karthigeyan is considering applying for a license to do business from a fixed location in the city.

If you happen to find yourself in Brickfields, don't miss out trying Karthigeyan's "Vera Level Briyani Bungkus" to satiate your hunger, and support an upcoming entrepreneur at the same time.

Photo source: Karthigeyan