Everlasting Mus was stablished in 2007 in Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) as a training provider. Its vocational training center, the Swepp Academy, addresses especially the demand for training from tourism (especially spa therapists), hospitality and creative industries. The training focuses on the B40 community, school dropouts, single mothers and the unemployed youth. In 2014, the company also established a social enterprise sales platform for local handicraft products called MJbyMUS. In addition, the company runs a spa. The training of the spa therapists and the artisans is partly funded by the company (20 per cent), from the CSR program of other companies (40 per cent) and from government development programs (40 per cent).
While the spa is a mainstream business and the therapist training a CSR activity, the handicraft platform is a social enterprise initiative with the potential of becoming an inclusive business model. The handicraft platform and the production center were set up to allow women to work part-time from home, while taking care of their family. The company provides training, product design, and some production inputs such as pandan and mengkuang (leaf product for weaving), the women make finished or semi-finished beadings, jewellery from precious stones, and the company then processes them in its finishing center and markets them widely in Sabah (65 per cent of revenue), other Malaysia (30 per cent) and in export markets (5 per cent). Some women also market directly but the income achieved by marketing through Everlasting Mus is at least 20 per cent higher and the sales are more stable.
By 2019, Everlasting Mus – in its IB-related business - was working in 12 villages in Sabah with about 200 artisans, of which 78 are selling through EM and the rest are doing self-marketing while receiving training and inputs from the company’s CSR program. The 200 artisans are represented by their village artisan leader. Ten of these artisan leaders have transformed into own entrepreneurs. The artisans are being paid by items, and the rates vary depending on the quality (to motivate artisans to provide a higher quality crafts and deliver on time). Since EM is emphasizing quality through its training, on average the women entrepreneurs earn 15-20 per cent better than other women in Sabah doing similar handicrafts for other companies. However, overall income generation for the women is still low, due to the preference for working part-time work. It is estimated that 10 per cent of the artisans working with EM generate a monthly income of MYR 1,000 and 2,000, while 65 per cent generate an income between MYR 500 and MYR 1,000 per month, and the remaining 25 per cent below MYR 500. While the company’s current business philosophy is for the small entrepreneurs to be independent, most artisans do not want to be independent as they do not have links to markets that pay better than Everlasting Mus.