Driving change for women ultra-micro entrepreneurs in Lombok, Indonesia


Author: Bintang Aulia

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Sri Mustika Dewi, Field Officer at Mitra Dhuafa Cooperatives (KOMIDA) at the Praya branch office. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

After graduating high school, Sri Mustika Dewi became the only woman from her recruitment batch to be hired as an officer at Mitra Dhuafa Cooperatives (KOMIDA) in Praya, North Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Now, she works as a field officer supporting women ultra-micro entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses through women-friendly credit from KOMIDA.

“I was interested in a field officer job because my goal is to learn and to acquire knowledge so that one day I too can have my own business.”

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Mustika prepares to go out to do minggon. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

In a house-turned-office on the outskirts of Lombok, Mustika and 21 other officers in the KOMIDA Praya branch don their signature green uniform and start the morning with a briefing session, before going out to do minggon (collecting installment from members of KOMIDA). The Cooperative offers credit and saving services for women with low incomes to start or grow their business.

Daily, Mustika rides her black motorbike to visit groups of women entrepreneurs, “I usually visit 7 centres a day, the furthest takes 40 minutes travel time. Usually there are 2 groups with 8-11 members in one centre. I finish around 2 p.m., take a lunch break and start the afternoon agenda,” she said.

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Mustika riding her black motorbike to visit centres for minggon. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

Mustika is responsible for 200 women members clustered into 7 centres. The women have various types and sizes of businesses, from ngulat (woven crafts) and woven fabric to opening kiosks or selling food. During the afternoon agenda, she visits some groups to assist them in managing their businesses.

“I teach. I explain that to grow their business they need to manage their capital and business revenue. So, they can set aside some funds to pay for their installment, while still having the capital to continue their business,” said Mustika.

She has taught women entrepreneurs to record their financial history and how to use the Internet to market their products, which she learned from the Together Digital training on gender equality, entrepreneurship and digital skills from UN Women, in collaboration with Indonesia’s Government Investment Center (PIP). The training was given to KOMIDA’s field officers as one of the organizations that received funding from PIP.

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Mustika at one of Together Digital training for KOMIDA’s field officers in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

One such beneficiary is Siti Aisah, a tenun weaver, who said, "Mustika gave us business coaching for three months – on selling our products online and via social media. We've come a long way now. Our online and offline sales increased making it easier to pay our weekly installments."

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Siti Aisah, a tenun weaver. Thanks to training by Mustika her business is growing. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

The "Together Digital" programme was funded by the Ant Foundation and implemented in China and Indonesia, aiming to support women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to participate and thrive in the digital economy. The programme began in January 2022.

At one of her afternoon appointments, she assisted a group of women weavers to open an online platform for their business, “I helped them take pictures of their products. This way they can create an online catalogue and logo for their business so more people can see their products and order them thereby enabling them to increase their profit.”

Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan
Mustika taught two women weavers on how to create an online catalogue for their products. Photo: UN Women/Putra Djohan

“I hope that my members help me gain the knowledge to become an entrepreneur myself. And I hope the women entrepreneurs that I coached keep thriving so international tourists get to know their products.”

Empower Each Other for Entrepreneurship | Mustika Dewi