Indonesia: Women in Nias have entrepreneurial spirit

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Women entrepreneurs in Nias, Indonesia, describe how they manage community loans and expand business ventures.
In the many trips I've taken with the World Bank’s Indonesia Country Director, Joachim von Amsberg, I've always admired how indigenous locals interact with expatriates. I think from the curiosity of whether an expatriate really would like to engage with them and understand their needs, you can actually see the sparkle in their eyes to pose many questions.

In our visit to Hiliweto village of Gido district of Nias, the mission team visited the home of one of the women's group leaders to chat with informal women entrepreneurs on how they manage their community loans and expand their business ventures. At first, the group was reluctant to even answer a question, but Joachim broke the ice by agreeing to have the women ask about him – for example, where he comes from, married or not, children, etc. As the discussion went into a more relaxed mode, we asked what specific program benefits them the most. They all hailed microfinancing. Getting small loans is a common problem in Indonesia because credit is difficult to obtain from banks without having any collateral as a guarantee.

Through the Kecamatan Development Program – funded by the World Bank – the 10 women members formed a group to be able to participate in a savings and loan scheme for women. The group members were very excited to talk about what they did with the money. The group's leader, Diana Hora, had to take the helm and compile the comments.

With Rp. 10 million (about US $1,000), the women bought several sewing machines, seeds for each of their own vegetable gardens and livestock – i.e. chicken and pigs. Diana said the group has also paid back the community lender at an interest rate of 1.25 percent. They plan to borrow again to get ready for the holidays when the buying power of people is higher. As far as I know, based on various discussions, women tend to be better borrowers because they do not want to be considered as bad debtors in the community, and they feel that having to owe people is a burden.

When asked what the most profitable business was, they all simultaneously answered, with joy – livestock. Poultry eggs come in as a routine breadwinner for the households. They also start with piglets, which become large enough to be sold for Christmas time. Every three months, most of the women are able to sell their livestock and earn quite a high profit margin, to be used as a base for their small businesses. Although the group’s treasurer, Kidalial, is a very good seamstress and she sees that sewing is profitable, she cannot rely on it as a daily income since people only make clothes for the holidays or special events.

I believe that when we were able to engage with the women, they became excited to tell us everything. And of course, the trip would not have been complete without a picture together with the group.


Nia Sarinastiti

Multi-Donor Fund - Indonesia

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