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  From Chasing The Dragon To Getting Jobs For Former Addicts

By V. Sankara, BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- As a teenager, he was "chasing the dragon" in the mean streets of the city.

Today, Mohd Rustam Roshandin is on a different chase mode.

Realising the folly of his wayward ways, the 24-year-old's life has evolved for the better.

The young man is now a technopreneur, having set up KL Downtown Night Market Sdn Bhd, an information and communication technology company, of which he is the managing director.

The company, apart from being a social enterprise helping ex-drug addicts obtain employment at its night market, also offers a support system for them to stay off drugs.

Operating from 10pm to 4am daily since last year, the night market is located at the parking area of the velodrome in Jalan Yaacob Latif, Cheras.

"Of the 500 stalls, about half of them are operated by former drug addicts, with some making monthly space rental payments online through our website," Mohd Rustam told Bernama here.

"Having been a drug dependant once, I know the difficulties faced by former drug addicts wanting to assimilate into society.

"It is difficult for them to get jobs. Here, at my place, former drug addicts get priority.

"For the first three months, they can choose not to pay us, if they cannot afford it. After that, they can slowly pay us (for the stall rentals)," said Mohd Rustam, who also helps new entrepreneurs from scratch.

Holder of a Diploma in Business Management from Flamingo Institute, he was once a volunteer at Pengasih, an association involved in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, where he was tasked with finding income for the association to run its programmes.

Rustam, one of 100 winners of the Global Young Social Entrepreneurs' Competition, may get the chance to win US$15,000 (RM50,000) in a fund-pitching session.

"I hope to win the prize to move faster in the business. Many investors are coming and I want to expand to Ipoh.

"Nothing is impossible. I'm still young. I can do many things," said Rustam who contributes 30 percent of his company's income to Pengasih.

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