Business Sense and Sensibility: 6 Factors Driving the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Kelantan

Learn how to develop a keen commercial mindset from the Kelantanese business community.


kelantan business

Many women make their living at the Siti Khadijah Market.

It is a well-known fact that the people of the state of Kelantan are very entrepreneurial in nature.


Anyone who has visited the East Coast state will see plenty of shops and business establishments of all types and sizes. Roadside food stalls, neighbourhood laundrettes, dried seafood stands and artisan batik retailers are abundant.


You will find an even larger concentration of small businesses if you visit the Siti Khadijah Market or Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah in the state capital, Kota Bharu.


This iconic market is what you can call the epicentre of Kelantanese culture, business savvy and socialization at work. Here, you can witness vendors who are mainly comprised of the local womenfolk selling all sorts of goods, from fresh vegetables to herbs and spices to traditional foodstuffs, textiles and kitchenware.

kelantan business

There are many small businesses, such as this roadside stall, in Kelantan.


Are you ready to find out what makes these Kelantanese entrepreneurs tick? Here are the six factors:


1. Cooperation: The merchants at the market are cooperative with each other and know what to do to make sure their own business is competitive while ensuring that it doesn’t affect other traders negatively. They also practise a sense of collectivism. For example, a particular kind of item such as a rectangular shawl will have a fixed ceiling price of RM10 at all the outlets throughout the market.

2. Business is in their blood: People often marvel at the business sense of the Kelantanese and wonder how this came to be. Word has it that it all probably stems from the state’s agrarian roots. As the population depended on the produce from farming, the sustainability of the local community was increased through the selling of such produce. This eventually evolves into solid commercial activities such as family enterprises and diversification of trade. As a result, business acumen is ingrained in their culture.


3. They hone their people and customer service skills: The traders, especially female ones, are known for their friendliness and warmth when dealing with potential customers. They are also adept at keeping up with customer needs and wants, and will make sure that their shop has the best-selling and popular goods to entice visitors to buy their wares.


kelantan business

The preference for cash has made it easier for businesses to run in Kelantan.

4. Cash is king: This is extremely important for those who engage in business, especially small-scale business. Buying and selling in hard cash allow the traders to have a ready source of monetary lifeline. Unlike credit buying or selling, the liquidity of cash enables business transactions to proceed at a seamless pace, creating a buzzing and thriving commercial scene like what you see at the Siti Khadijah Market.


5. They know the importance of branding: Have you seen products such as sambal goreng budu (anchovy relish), budu (fish sauce) and keropok (crackers; usually fish)? They are almost always packed in simple packaging with catchy names like ‘Remoka’ (short for ‘Resipi Mok Kawe’ or my mum’s recipe), ‘Keropok Segera Cap Keropok dan Pinggan’ (crackers and plate brand instant fish crackers) and ‘Budu Sedap Terlajak’ (extremely delicious fish sauce). A catchy name and an affordable price make for good brand awareness and marketability.


6. Affordable raw materials and supplies: Prices of raw goods in Kelantan are much cheaper compared to other states in Malaysia. This makes it easier for the business community to buy basic materials. It is also an important element for traders with small capital who are considering an entry into the business world.



These factors and traits of its business community eventually translate into Kelantan being a choice destination, especially for those looking for a unique shopping haven in Malaysia.




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