As one CWS approach to sustainable economic development for women in West Timor, Berdaya, which means empowerment in Indonesian, supports women in a few ways, including support to organize and lead their own savings and loans groups. Woman, in turn, support each other as they start and grow small businesses, make profits, save … and lend. Ety Pitáy is the Secretary of one of these savings and loans group. She is a single mother to Gelti who is 15, Esi who is 13, Fandi who is 10 and Nimsi who is 6, and they live in a rural mountainous community.
Before joining Berdaya, Ety had no savings, and she had work very hard to support her children by processing dried corn kernels. She would grind about 40 pounds of corn each month to remove the hard outer shell. For all her hard work, she earned less than $9 monthly. This hardly kept children fed; and, there was no possibility for them to attend school.
When Ety partnered with CWS, she gained life-changing skills. “Before, I only knew how to process corn, but now, along with my corn processing, I can make sweet potato chips and marungga (local tree with nutritionally valuable fruit and leaves) sticks to sell to snack vendors”, says Mama Ety. By adding these products to her business, Mama Ety has been able to double, and sometimes triple her income!
Mama Ety also attributes some of her successes to having a local savings and loans group. “I can improve my household business by taking out affordable loans to reinvest in myself”, she says. “But not only that, I can save for my children’s education. I never thought education for my children was possible”. But now, in fact, thanks to her willingness to partner CWS and others in Berdaya. As one of the leaders in her savings and loans groups, Ety has inspired CWS staff as she has learned, grown and, in turn, helped empower other women.
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