Active learning, ambitious plans

When hobby becomes business opportunity… Veerappen Kathirasan with one of his old coin collections, which he plans to sell online.

AT 73 years old, Veerappen Kathirasan has the energy of a much younger man while his passion is antique. He likes collecting antique furniture, old banknotes and coins… some dating back to the early 1900s.

Perhaps Veerappen’s youthfulness can be attributed to his active lifestyle. He works as a sales personnel at an antique furniture shop in Pasir Panjang and exercises four times a week. He likes brisk walking, swimming, yoga and breathing exercises.

“I just can’t sit still at home,” the active ager confessed. “I have to keep finding things to do to keep myself fit and alert.” 

In March, Veerappen decided to try something new. He signed up for a course under the National Silver Academy (NSA) that piqued his curiosity – ‘How to start an online business’.

The grandfather of two said: “It’s very interesting how we are constantly on the Internet today and transactions can be completed online at the click of a button. I feel I must adapt and learn the new generation’s preferred mode of doing business in order to stay relevant.”

However, Veerappen admitted that completing the course was not easy.

He had to quickly bring himself up to speed learning the technology and the learning curve was steep. Thankfully he had his classmates who were in his age group, learning and struggling together with him at the same time.

The second challenge while unexpected is the narrative of 2020: COVID-19. Due to the ‘circuit breaker’ regulations, the course conducted by Society for WINGS – a non-profit organisation that helps seniors, especially women, age actively – was suspended for a month. It disrupted Veerappen’s momentum and dampened his initial enthusiasm. At one point, he even felt like giving up.

Fortunately, classes resumed soon after the end of the ‘circuit breaker’ and were conducted online. He adapted to the platform well and the possibility of being able to generate another stream of income with his new skills also spurred him to persevere and complete the course.

The affable man could not hide his excitement as he shared his plans on starting his online business.

“I want to start my own online business selling antiques as well as my collection of old banknotes and coins. It will take some time for me but I am keen to make it happen,” Veerappen said.

Veerappen's collection of coins

Minted treasure… Veerappen categorises his collection of old coins from around the world by country.

The avid learner, while working on being adaptable, staying relevant and keeping up with the times, hopes other seniors will be inspired to keep learning too.

“The world is constantly changing; there’s plenty of new knowledge we can acquire even at our age,” he said.

He added with a smile: “Keeping an open mind and constantly looking out for new things to learn – these things keep my mind occupied and make me happy!”

About National Silver Academy (NSA)

  • NSA is a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations, offering a wide range of learning opportunities to seniors aged 50 and above. It is administered by the Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency that promotes active ageing in Singapore.
  • Eligible seniors can enjoy subsidies when taking short courses under the NSA.
  • Singaporean seniors who wish to participate in exam-free modules at the post-secondary education institutions only need to pay a token fee.
  • Seniors can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to defray the out-of-pocket cost for most NSA courses.
  • For more information on NSA courses, visit or call the NSA hotline at 6478 5029 (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, excluding public holidays).


Article published on: 26/10/2020