Empowerment! One Woman’s Experience of Group Solidarity

CWS Indonesia | July 22, 2018

Mama Yance and her husband Semuel Leokuna wearing traditional ikat textiles. Photo: CWS

Yance Tefa is 36 and she is called Mama Yance by her neighbors and friends in Banli hamlet in remote southern West Timor. She lives with her husband, Semuel Leokuna, who is 38, and their four children, who are all school or preschool students aged four to 16. Mostpeople in Banli and others nearbyhamlets and villages are household farmers like Mama Yance. She raises pigs for her primary income while others raise corn and other crops. Besides tending her pigs, Mama Yance weaves traditional ikat fabric for ceremonial shawls used in weddings and funerals, and blankets, which she sells for a nice profit. Usually she weaves with help from her daughter, and she can do so because of CWS support for her to expand her weaving business while also increasing her farming activities to include vegetable gardening that helps improve her family’s diet and increase the family income too.

Mama Yance’s financial situation is better now than in many past years primarily because of her own ambition and diligence. And, in truth, because CWS has been helping the women of Op village through the BERDAYA, or EMPOWERMENT, initiative for the past year. Like past work with Op and other nearby villages, this new CWS focus on women and girls, which is funded by long-time partner, Week of Compassion, has been enthusiastically received, especially among mothers. One key reason that women like Berdaya is that it has supported savings groups start-up – not with seed funding or grant, but with simple technical assistance, advice and encouragement. Mama Yance, like others, is clear that she has gained a lot of new information from CWS staff to help her expand her knowledge for better household economic management as well as community group operations and management. She is especially happy to know more about group savings and lending – simple bookkeeping, business opportunity assessment and planning, market assessment and marketing ideas.

Because of BERDAYA Mama Yance is, by her own admission, more active and diligent in working to improve her family’s wellbeing. “A year before CWS came to this village, I and some other mothers in this village were working with textile buyers from nearby Soe town to sell our ikat in Kupang, which is our biggest city and a place we would have more customers, potentially. However, the problem we faced was the lack of enough capital to buy thread and other materials in large quantities, so the number of ikat scarves we could weave was small since the profits we had from selling our pigs or vegetables was quite small with not much left after we paid our bills each month.”

So, when CWS approached us about Berdaya about a year ago and we figured we could learn a lot and benefit ourselves through the education and training being offered. And, we were right, especially in creating our savings group! We began to realize In Banli hamlet alone, we started saving our own money: 300,000 rupiah ($23); after just four months we had 800,000 rupiah ($61), which we used, in small loans to individual members, to buy yarn, and other weaving supplies and tools.”

Because she learned a lot more than she’d known before about business basics, Mama Yance was able to move from one 200,000-Rupiah ($15) loan, which she repaid quickly after selling two shawls for a nice profit, to another, and then another – increasing her inputs (thread, primarily) and outputs (shawls and blankets) to grow her profits each time. During four months she wove six shawls and three blankets and sold four of the shawls and both blankets for 900,000 Rupiah ($69) in profit!

“With this assistance from CWS, I would like to encourage all members of Berdaya-inspired savings group to try new business opportunities since we all have the benefit securing start-up loans. For those of us weaving ikat textiles, I hope that our collaboration with the buyers from Soe will continue to go well so that our handiwork can be regularly and increasingly sold in Kupang for more and more profit.” In addition to profit, Mama Yance and dozens of other women in West Timor are increasing their pride alongside their profits by bringing their talents to bear for their families in improved livelihoods and wellbeing.

(For more information please contact mkoeniger@cwsglobal.org )

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