She has tread on a path that few dare to even imagine. Being thrust into the thick of things at a young age, she found herself in an outrightly male-dominated industry and one that called for tremendous empathy and fortitude.
Helping bereaved families, arranging for funeral set up and also providing holistic CARE planning under the CARE Planner Program, she is one of Singapore’s locally certified Will Writer and Grief Counsellor. Recognised with awards for her contribution she has been sharing her experiences with families as well.
Alverna Cher is the founder of City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd, a modern age Funeral Service Provider founded in 2015. She is also the first Funeral Director in Singapore to provide holistic CARE planning under the CARE Planner Program launched in 2016, that write Will, LPA, and also engage in pre-planning funeral. She believes that it is about Leaving a legacy and not a burden.
Alverna was kind to share her journey in this exclusive interview with AsiaBizToday.
Activities that you undertake
My day-to-day activities include answering to bereavement families’ enquiries, arranging funeral set up, oversee the operation of the business, give training to the associate CARE planners and even spend my Sunday morning doing volunteering work with my daughters at Keeping Hope Alive.
I failed in two businesses since I started my entrepreneur journey in 2007, at the age of 25. With a motto of ‘Never Stop Learning,’ I joined the education industry, as a part-time consultant and a full-time mum. I increased my knowledge in MOE education and parenting skills, both helps me to be a better mother. I also honed my knowledge, skills and was accredited with the ‘Focus on Family’ as a facilitator in 2012.
In year 2015, City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd was founded, however my ex-partner left over night, leaving behind a barely one-month old, indebted company. That time I was left with $400 in my bank account and five figure debts to repay. In order to not exchange time for money, I took up the challenge to embark into an unfamiliar, male dominated industry so that I can have the flexibility to spend time with my daughters, who were 8 and and 5 months old respectively at that time.
Trigger and motivation to get into this profession
My greatest motivation is MOTHER. A mother to my two daughters and a daughter to my Mother.
My motto, Turning Failure Into Fuel That Keep Dreams Burning, had inspired my surrounding mothers to stay strong and ride through hardship to see the rainbow at the end.
My parenting teaching motto to my two daughters age 13 and 6 is to live life-like a mirror, treating our family and friends how we wanted to be treated. This motto helped Vanessa, my elder daughter, to gain true friendship in school and learn to be satisfied with what she has. Vanessa is currently a passionate AVA leader in her school and a monitress in her class. At the end of Vanessa’s PSLE year, 2019, I was nominated to give a speech on stage representing the parent support group. The most memorable of the speech is to gather all P6 students, about 240 students to shoutout and remember encouraging tips to bring into secondary school life, which is: What You Think is What You Get, How You Speak is Who You Are.
Your experiences in this leadership position
The most satisfying moment in a leadership position is to empower and inspire. Firstly, being able to educate them at a young age to understand the importance of legacy planning and instilling the ‘Turning Failure Into Fuel That Keep Dreams Burning’s spirit’. Especially sharing that being in a single-parent environment does not give us an excuse to lay back.
Secondly, women around me are highly driven, inspire to do more than they can think of. Breaking the fear barrier that women can only stay at home, empowering them to step out of their comfort zone and start earning an income with CARE planner, and still able to fulfill their daily roles as mother, daughter, wife.
Important factors that keep you going
I strongly believe in leaving a legacy and not a burden for our next of kin. Leaving behind holistic last journey planning for my daughter is my mission and I want to inspire all parents to do the same.
Fulfill both my duty as a mother and duty as a daughter to my old age parents, I need not exchange time for money, hence the creation of CARE planner associate system, that runs on its own and becoming a pass-down business for my daughters. Spending quality time with my daughters and parents are my priority.
Any obstacles or challenges because of being a woman
In a male-dominated industry, I had a hard time to make a stand. I have been discriminated as a young, petite, know nothing woman, during the first six months in the business. Most of my staff left me at that time. However, I chose to prove them wrong. I did all the work that a man can do, passed my driving license in two months, drove a big van, transported deceased body and even created CARE planner associate system for the first time in Singapore. This empowers a woman to step out of their comfort zone, to earn a second income, based on my proven and supportive method in the area of Will Planning, LPA, Funeral As need planning and Funeral preplanning.
I gained respect through all these years of hard work, non-gossip policy and a never say die spirit. Now, we work together as a team and I treat my staff as family members.
I’m now seen as a funeral influence in the trade, my products, ideals, setup are trending and at the same time preserve tradition. Not forgetting my social media encouragement for the sole breadwinner in FaceBook and helping out single parents to find jobs.
Source of inspiration
I get inspiration from reading books, one of the highly recommended books will be ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. I often do self-reflection on how to improve further in the different roles I took on. Motivation Is What Gets You Started, Habit Is What Keeps You Going.
Your proudest moment
I’m really proud to be the first funeral director in Singapore to provide a CARE planner associate certification program. We also expanded to Malaysia in January 2020.
More good news coming our way this 2020, a locally big media company is collaborating with us. Sharing the same mission to leave a legacy and not a burden.
Definition of success
Success is not defined by wealth, nor defined by the number of houses. Personally, I feel that success is being able to lift up the people around us, to empower them to see their purpose in life, empowering, inspiring, teaching them to make a passive income that does not exchange time for money. Bringing out the compassionate heart of one person to make the world a better place. City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd gives back providing pro bono funeral assistance to needy with no next of kin and baby funeral. At a personal level, I joined Keeping Hope Alive on Sunday morning to knock on rental flats, provide them breakfast, cleaning of the house infested with bed bugs and giving new furniture.
Advice for other aspiring Entrepreneurs, especially women
Do not belittle yourself, believe in your dream. No dream is too small, it’s how you want to achieve it. Woman you are stronger than what you think.
When I started CARE planner affiliate program, no one trusted me. They doubted me, telling me, I’m wasting time out of the norm. But I believed and pressed on, I was doing it for my legacy to leave behind for my daughters. Many sleepless nights, worrisome, self-doubt nights, however I kept telling myself that I can do it. Kept telling myself to be positive and using the law of attraction to picture my achievements. Today, I’m a happy woman with a business system that allows me to have time with my family, a business system that allows me to have passive income and achieve my legacy. Empowering the women around me to leave a life of financial freedom, freedom of time and legacy planning.