PETALING JAYA, Dec 20 — There are many ways to bring a community closer.
In this case, a group of tech-savvy students from Terengganu has created an app that allows residents from the coastal town of Paka to carry out a host of activities like purchase goods, navigate administrative processes at government offices and get updates on the community.
It is their attempt to bridge the digital gap between mom-and-pop businesses and consumers.
The all-girls team from Sekolah Menengah Paka’s hard work was rewarded when they got first runner-up spot in Yayasan Petronas All About Youth competition in 2017 for creating the app AcuPaka.
Two years on, it has grown exponentially and now boasts more than 400 local businesses, 25 private and government agencies, and 14 online banking and tracking platforms within one handy app.
For student Nur Aisya Abdul Razak, who led the winning Sparkling S’Paka team to victory, it wasn’t easy starting from the bottom when it came to developing AcuPaka.
She said one of the biggest challenges was to ensure that they could cooperate with the community.
“This is the reason why we chose ‘From community to community’ as our tagline,” she said.
“It was quite hard in the beginning to gain trust from them because we started from zero.
“Nevertheless, we are so proud because they do believe in us and have been giving great cooperation and continuous support until we managed to succeed.”
Having AcuPaka on their smartphones means the Paka community is more interconnected than ever and many daily tasks have been streamlined thanks to the help of technology.
Nur Aisya explained how merchants registered with AcuPaka have been able to reach a wider customer base and now enjoy a much higher demand for their products.
At the same time, townspeople no longer have to juggle responsibilities during their lunch hour as food delivery services on AcuPaka allow them to grab a bite wherever they are.
As a tribute to their roots, the girls of Sparkling S’Paka decided to name their creation “AcuPaka”, which means “let’s try it” in the Terengganu dialect.
Far from being just a localised effort, Nur Aisya and her teammates are hoping that their app can boost community relationships in other towns and possibly those in neighbouring states as well.
“We have already created blueprints for whoever wants to create a similar app for their community.
“Since this app is more focused on one location, we prefer to make blueprints and spread it to the heads of communities around our area,” said the teen.
The group was aided by teacher and facilitator Kamal Mizan, who described the Sparkling S’Paka members as “creative” and “diligent” in their work.
When asked what her ambitions for the future were, Nur Aisya hopes that AcuPaka can one day stand alongside apps from e-commerce giants such as Lazada and Shopee.
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