From Fritters to Financial Freedom

CWS Indonesia | March 7, 2019

Ani sells her purple sweet potato chips at the local school. Photo: CWS

Thirty-five-year-old Yuniarti A. Nabuasa – Ani, for short – is a community health volunteer, farmer and entrepreneur in Oebaki, where she lives with her husband and three children. A number of years ago, Ani started selling pisang goreng, which is a popular Indonesia snack similar to American banana fritters. In fact, these fritters are so popular that many Indonesian families make and sell them, not least because investing 30,000-40,000 Ruphia ($2-$3) can yield a quick 20,000-30,000 Ruphia ($1.50-$2) profit. However, as Ani learned long ago, there was a limit to the fritters profitability because they had no “shelf life” and were quite readily available. On market days, Ani would earn a little bit more than she did on the two or three days she sold snacks just in her neighborhood; still, it was not enough. There was too much competition in fritters!

So, almost four years ago, Ani was happy to hear of a better way forward. At that time CWS was expanding it Timor Zero Hunger initiatives in her village in an ongoing effort to reduce pervasive food insecurity by helping families increase their knowledge and improve their skills – in farming and home-based income generating activities – and by supporting new economic opportunities for women through savings and loan groups. Since joining one of the project-supported women’s groups, Ani has joined many education / training workshops on subjects as diverse as basic financial literacy, small business financial management and forming a savings and loans group to basic nutrition education accompanied by cooking demonstrations, when Ani learned how to make new snacks: banana and sweet potato chips and spinach and peanut crackers.

With her expanded knowledge and new skills, Ani was inspired to take a loan from her savings and loans group to buy ingredients and equipment to support a new business direction. Recently, in talking with a few CWS project team members, Ani noted, “Making these different snacks to sell has so many benefits. Not only can they stay fresh longer (so there’s no need to sell them the same day that I make them); but they are different from what is commonly sold in the village. This means that I don’t have any competition for these snacks, and I can see a big increase in my income! Also, she adds, “The Timor Zero Hunger team has encouraged me to explore further, too, and I hope to eventually open a kiosk where, besides my snacks, I can sell other household goods like rice, cooking oil and salt, so I can keep improving my family’s income.”

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