WITH life becoming so fragile as evident by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic – the invisible enemy does not discriminate the poor from the wealthy – people are certainly becoming more open-minded to discuss about afterlife pre-planning or be mentally ready to accept death as part and parcel of life.
However, whether one is financially sound to afford the desired send-off is another question altogether.
In dismissing the notion that death is a lucrative business, Life Eternity Group Bhd founder and chairman Melvin Loh Kok Man identified a few gaps in the mass market – especially among the low-to-middle income groups – and decided to fill them up.
“Let’s face it: the wealthy could afford to pre-plan their deaths and funerals because they have financial means to do so,” he told FocusM. “But how are the poor who could barely make ends meet even think about afterlife pre-planning?”
“Today, most deathcare services providers are focusing on the premium market. But what Life Eternity intends to do is to address the mass market. We want to make funeral services and afterlife pre-planning affordable for everyone”.
Affordable afterlife service
Headquartered at Seri Kembangan (Selangor), Life Eternity which was founded in 2017 positioned itself as a one-stop contract pre-planning afterlife service provider. It is deemed to be the only Malaysian company that offers a fully-integrated online and offline service-based sharing platform focusing on afterlife planning.
Philosophically, Life Eternity embraces both life and afterlife by dispelling the traditional myths surrounding death by encouraging people to accept the natural cycle of life and death. In so doing, one can pre-pay his/her funeral expenses on a yearly basis and even enjoy benefits and discounts from partners of Life Eternity.
“Our business model is very different from other service providers available,” explained Loh. “We are asset-light as we do not buy land or a cemetery. In fact, we collaborate with other cemetery owners when the redemption happens.”
In other words, subscribers of Life Eternity are able to choose where they want to be buried upon their demise while the latter – with its vast experience in this industry – will get the location they want while maintaining the budgeted cost.
As it is, Life Eternity is in the midst of rolling out the country’s very first application platform that focuses on afterlife support to provide hassle-free guidance and reasonable costing for the funeral ceremony and related services (such as embalmment handling and encoffin services to preparation of ritual tribute and funeral procession services, among others).
“Once we have built up our subscribers’ base, we are able to offer ancillary services through our ecosystem,” envisages Loh.
“Our vision is not just to offer afterlife services but also during life. For example, we intend to offer feng shui consultancy, Bazi profiling, Qimen chart reading, etc which will be a one-stop platform for the entire lifecycle.”
Deliberating on people having the awareness to buy medical and life insurance, Loh lamented that they tend to overlook afterlife planning given that death is perceived a taboo subject by many cultures.
One good example is how many low-to-middle income earners are finding themselves trapped in the predicament of having to fork out their life savings to pay for the funeral services of their loved ones (eg parents, spouses or children) who lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he observed.
“Life Eternity understands the financial difficulties that people are facing amid this pandemic. This is why our subscribers are not required to submit medical check-up, and the age limit for subscription is from 18 to 65 years old. The protection starts on the second year of subscription.”
Such hardship could have been avoided with afterlife pre-planning that would have relieved the living from both financial burden and emotional responsibility as people should be allowed to mourn the demise of their loved ones with a peace of mind.
Loh further argued that having ample cash flow is essential during the current state of affair where measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic would eventually impact the country’s economy and livelihood with many people losing their jobs or subject to salary cuts.
Moreover, statistics have shown that funeral expenses are doubling every 10 years in line with inflation which will further put a strain on life savings of the next-of-kin to cover the funeral cost.
“In fact, it was reported in 2019 that 52% of Malaysians simply do not have enough savings for rainy days. Imagine the stress that the grieving families have to go through,” justified the 33-year-old entrepreneur.
Moreover, it is estimated that 3.5 million or over 10% of Malaysia’s 32 million population are above the age of 65. Although their lifespan can now be stretched by another 12 to 15 years thanks to better healthcare quality, life itself is full of uncertainties.
Interestingly, Life Eternity is in the midst of raising funds via the issuance of redeemable and convertible preference shares (RCPS) to private investors, while eyeing for initial public offering (IPO) within five years (this fund raising exercise is by invitation only and for those who believe in such business model).
“My long-term vision is to get Life Eternity listed on the stock exchange so that more investors could participate in our growth story. I sincerely believe our company has a bright prospect given our business model can change the landscape of the bereavement industry,” projected Loh.
“With our app platform and big data as well as the support of my shareholders and value partners, we expect Life eternity to replicate this business model via our expansion to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Southeast Asian countries.”
For the first round of the RCPS exercise, Life Eternity seeks to raise RM20 mil in aggregate subscription amount through the issuance of 20 million shares at a par value of RM1 apiece. The minimum subscription amount will be 20,000 shares or RM20,000 per lot.
Any amount raised shall be used mainly as working capital and related development, including the app development of Life Eternity.
The issuer is committed to declare yearly fixed dividend to each subscriber during the moratorium period of three years. Those who subscribe less than 10 lots will be entitled to a yearly dividend of 10%, whereas those who subscribe more than 10 lots will be entitled for 12%.
The closing date of the application for subscription is expected to be Dec 31, 2021 or upon completion of the RM20 mil fund raising exercise, whichever is earlier. – June 7, 2021