In an ideal world, race wouldn’t matter when it comes to doing business, whether in Singapore or elsewhere.
Local entrepreneur Imran Md Ali shared an anecdote on Facebook about how he once put that ideal to the test.
Using a non-Malay name
Imran wrote on March 13:
“When I started out in my arts business, I was delivering and closing my own art piece sales with offices and homes.
During my emails with a sales prospect, I did a Long term split test.
One would reply with Imran Ali
One would reply with my pen name, Benjamin.
Over a Long period of time, I’ve ascertained that using the non Malay name yielded more sales.
Probably quadruple or so.”
Imran himself is of a mixed-race background. His father is Malay and his mother is Chinese but was raised by a Malay family.
He grew up mixing with friends of all races.
But he wanted to know why using a non-Malay named yielded a “profits advantage” of 400 per cent.
Customers were surprised
He signed off as either Imran Ali or Benjamin and watched what happened over the long run.
This led to a moment of revelation for some of his customers:
“In fact, when I closed a painting sale under “benjamin”, and delivered the painting myself, it usually gets a reaction “eh you Malay ah?”
To which I would say yep- “is that alright?”
After which they will apologise profusely.”
He claimed that after seeing that a Malay guy could do the job “equally well”, these customers would continue buying from him and recommended his services to their friends.
What about others?
But after some time, he no longer needed to use the “Benjamin” method and began using his given name once more.
“God knows how much harder I have to work as a Malay in Singapore to do ok in this training seminar business and other businesses. There’s a LOT of judgement about race. I had to work harder than the typical local Chinese.
I’ve done ok in life. But sometimes I wonder – how are the other Malays faring in life with these prejudgements, and obstacles?”
Addresses Chinese and Malays
Imran also said he hoped that the Chinese would not judge others based on race, and that the Malays would work hard and prove themselves worthy — not to others but to themselves.
Other users agreed
Imran’s words struck a chord with a number of people:
Including the occasional skeptic:
Which should be familiar to anyone who has ever been a minority.
You can see the post in full below:
Top image from Imran Md Ali’s Facebook page.