In this article

This is a story of how a simple craving for gula apong sparked the creation of a million-ringgit empire called Mokti’s.

The woman pioneering this sweet and decadent phenomenon sweeping Malaysia and beyond is a 33-year-old Perlis-born citizen, Siti Fatimah Adnan, who has a degree in Technology & Plantation Management from UiTM.

The start of sweet invention

Siti’s journey with Mokti’s began seven years ago in Perlis, Malaysia, where her love for gula apong inspired her entrepreneurial spirit.

According to Malaysian startup storyteller, Richard Ker, Siti developed her love for this Sarawakian treasure when she stayed in Bintulu with her husband’s family for two years. There, gula apong ice cream was a popular dessert.

When she returned to her village in 2014, she craved gula apong ice cream but couldn’t find any. That gave Siti the idea to make her own gula apong ice cream and introduce it to the people here.

Siti attended an ice cream making course to learn the basics and then experimented to create her own version.

Her family and relatives became her lab rats of her first creation. They continuously gave her feedback and support until she was confident enough to open up an ice cream stall to sell her sweet invention to the public.

Image Credit: Bernama

According to FMT, in the beginning, a lot of ice cream didn’t make the cut and she had to throw it away until she found that one delicious recipe.

Now she has managed to produce 30 flavours using gula apong as a base.

Her ice cream is made of 95% gula apong from Sarawak and 5% milk, without incorporating white sugar and artificial flavourings such as vanilla flavouring.

Siti opened her first outlet, initially named Q Ice Cream Gula Apong, in Jejawi, Perlis, adjacent to a busy convenience store, starting with a 10×12 sq ft. shop. At the time, she sold RM2 soft serves with two free toppings.

Despite humble beginnings, her affordable soft serves quickly captured the hearts of locals, propelling her homemade ice cream to the forefront of dessert cravings.

What’s gula apong?

The Nipah palm tree naturally produces a sweet sap, and it is abundant in the mangrove forests along the coastal areas throughout Sarawak, primarily in Kota Samarahan and Betong.

Once the sap is boiled down, the substance with its golden caramel colour offers a flavour distinct from white or brown sugar, characterised by a naturally sweet yet less intense taste with a hint of saltiness, reminiscent of salted caramel.

Mokti’s Gula Apong ice cream / Image Credit: Mokti’s

Gula apong is widely recognised as a healthier alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners because of its rich mineral content, including iron, calcium, sodium, zinc, and magnesium.

Back then, villagers in coastal areas traditionally produced and utilised gula apong, especially where sugar was scarce or expensive due to limited road accessibility.

Things have changed over the years, and now it’s in high demand due to its versatility in food and beverage preparations. 

Mokti’s pudding and machiapong drink made from gula apong / Image Credit: Mokti’s

The journey to sweet success

In 2019, Siti rebranded her business as Mokti’s Ice Cream, paying homage to her husband’s Sarawakian roots. Mokti is short for Mok Fatimah, the name given to her by her husband’s family. 

Despite facing challenges, including navigating through the initial two years of business and the subsequent impact of the movement control order (MCO), Siti’s determination and resilience prevailed.

Using profits from her pioneer outlet, she expanded to multiple locations across Malaysia, including Kedah, Selangor, Perak, Melaka, and Negeri Sembilan. 

One of Mokti’s store locations / Image Credit: Mokti’s

Her dedication bore fruit as Mokti’s Ice Cream rapidly expanded to 94 outlets within four years, with additional franchises operated by other entrepreneurs, FMT reported in 2023. 

In 2022, her sales soared to a staggering RM11 million, a testament to the widespread popularity of her artisanal creations. 

Siti’s ambitions didn’t stop at Malaysian borders. 

In February 2023, she celebrated a significant milestone with the opening of her first international outlet in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Here, patrons can indulge in a variety of treats, including artisanal gelatos, popsicles, ice-cream tubs, caramel puddings, machiapong drinks, and cookies. 

Different types of flavours Mokti’s offers / Image Credit: Mokti’s

Driven by her passion for her craft and her desire to create job opportunities and inspire others, Siti continues to expand her dessert empire while staying true to her roots. 

With six factories in Perlis producing stick ice cream, soft serves, and gelatos, she remains committed to delivering quality and innovation to her growing customer base.

  • You can learn more the business here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Bernama / Mokti’s founder and her husband

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)