Rose Virginie Microenterprise, in Malaysia

Women in Malaysia learning the skills of running a Small Business

The Challenges 

The Rose Virginie Good Shepherd Centre is a shelter for Malaysian and non-Malaysian women and their children experiencing domestic violence, girls / women in pregnancy crisis and women and girls in other forms of crisis.  The need for skills training and income generation of residents was identified.

What did the Sisters do? 

The Rose Virginie Micro Enterprise programme was developed to provide employment, empowerment and dignity to women both in the residential programme of Rose Virginie Good Shepherd Centre and beyond.

 They established:

  • The Heart Gift Shop located in Fatimah Hospital and a stall in a factory canteen.

  • Food Catering - The Centre caters for small scale functions and events.

  • Sale of cookies and cakes during the festive seasons.

Who manages/administers the programme?

 The project is managed and administered by one Sister and mission partners.

Who is the major target group?

Participants of the Residential Programme include

  • Women from situations of domestic violence, pregnant unmarried mothers, women experiencing mild depression and teenagers who have temporarily dropped out of mainstream education.

  • Women and teenagers who are trafficked.


  • Women who need to supplement their family income.

  • Women who are unable to work regular hours due to family commitments.

  • Women who need to be out of their homes for a few hours to find some space and solace for themselves.

  • Counselling clients who may benefit from a few hours of work therapy.

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

 All of the above clients benefit in one or more of the following ways:

  • Regular disciplined work as a form of therapy.

  • Opportunity to learn new skills.

  • Empowered to discover their potential.

  • Acquire the skills of teamwork.

  • A sense of dignity and pride in being able to earn an income and thus provide partially for their families.  

  • Earning an income for own/family’s needs.  Payment rates are in accordance to Malaysian Employment Act and where possible, the GS Employment Charter. 

  • Counselling/Support in their difficulties.

  • Forming new relationships and being empowered through sharing their stories.

  • An opportunity to learn and exercise leadership.

  • The opportunity to interact and work with volunteers.

A small part of the income generated goes towards the running of the Residential Programme of the Centre.

How many people are assisted?

Numbers vary, up to a maximum of 15 at any one time.  Since the commencement of the programme in 2004, it has reached out to many women in need. 

Motivation and Core Values

  • Concern for those “on the margins”.

  • Compassion, respect and support especially for those who may not be “skilled” but give of their best.

  • A concern for the person and her family (goes beyond the work of the individual).

  • Opportunities for reconciliation and positive feedback.

  • Developing and strengthening caring relationships/ a support group.

  • Gratitude and dependence on God’s Providence.

  • Develops an attitude of acceptance and being non-judgemental.

  • Affirming the dignity of labour.

  • Developing and passing on the values of being Inclusive.

  • Trusting and believing that people have the potential to change and grow.

  • Remuneration for work done is in accordance to the Malaysian Employment Act and where possible, the GS Employment Charter.

What outcomes are achieved?

  • Residents leave the Centre with funds to start life again after recovering from their crisis situations.

  • Residents learn new skills which improve their opportunities for future employment.

  • Residents regain their dignity and self worth as persons.

  • Recurring demand for products produced.

  • Sustained annual sales of cookies and cakes during festive seasons.

  • Providing an income for the programme participants.

  • Project is self sustaining and contributes to the operational cost of the Centre.

  • Development of positive attitudes in participants.

  • Effective work therapy.

  • Creating awareness of Good Shepherd ministry in the community and among Corporate Bodies.

  • Assist the residents, especially those from lower income groups, to have some money to start life again after recovering from their crisis situations.

  • Promotes self-help attitude with the skills development in the area of food preparation, packaging and sales.

  • Enhance skills of residents / staff which would enable better opportunities for future employment.

  • Provides jobs for staff who need to supplement their family income and /or unable to work regular hours due to family commitments.

  • Payment of salaries and provision of employee benefits according to Malaysian Employment Act and where possible GS Employment Charter creates an awareness of fair wages and just working conditions.

How does it contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals?

  • Reducing the level of poverty and its effects in a few families.

  • Highlights the need for education.

  • In a very small way it creates the awareness of the need to care for the environment: recycling, making enzymes from fruit skins for homeuse.

  • Promote gender equality and empowerment of women.


  • Maintaining  a constant skilled workforce.

  • Striking a balance between the needs of the women and the demands of a “business”.

  • Recruiting the right persons to move the project forward into a professional business venture.

  • Expanding work opportunities and finding new markets. The need to constantly monitor and balance this.

  • Paying just wages and the reality of product prices in the country.

What would make the project more effective?

Pay skilled business people to run it while we remain in the project to ensure that Good Shepherd values are always integral.