Mama Erni Liunokas is not “just Erni” is to her friends; she is their role model. Erni is a wife, mother of two young children and a small business owner with many accomplishments, including the opening of her first business in 2015. Four years ago, eager to improve her family’s wellbeing, she started selling her garden produce along with rice, kerosene and mobile phone credit from a kiosk she set up near her house. All her goods were popular, and she grossed between 50,000 and 75,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($3.50 to $5) in daily sales. When a new opportunity to further improve her life came along in mid-2018, Erni joined the CWS-supported Berdaya – Empowerment – initiative in her village. Since then, Erni said recently, “I have learned so much to help my business as well as my life. For my business, I have learned how to process local foods in new ways. This has helped me find economic value in vegetables and greens that I thought had no food value at all”. With her openness to new ideas, this knowledge of nutritional value and ways to process her produce for others, Erni has be able to diversify what she sells at her kiosk. In showing new initiative in addition to past success, Erni has inspired and helped others in the self-help group they formed to learn to grow their businesses and improve their families’ lives. By expanding the group, with CWS help, to include a savings and lending plan that, in addition to creating financial services helps women feel empowered to create businesses to support their families.
For Erni, whose kiosk was doing all right, she summarized the power of Berdaya this way, “My business has bloomed this past year because I could borrow money from our group to invest in and grow my business”. By expanding her kiosk inventory, Erni has grown her average daily sales to 100,000 Rupiah ($7) – nearly double of what she netted some days in the past. With increased income of her own, Erni can now buy new equipment from her own profits. Recently she bought a new baking pan to expand into the cake-making business.
CWS now supports 26 women-run savings and loans groups in West Timor; 83% of loans are now investing in women-run businesses like Erni’s. Many of the borrowers in her own group say that they are inspired by her. And, as CWS staff know, Erni is just one of many inspirational and hard-working women working hard, every day, to ensure there is enough food for their own families and, in time, enough for all.
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