Local economic development

ILO initiative transforms lives in coastal North Sulawesi

An assessment shows proof of improvements in community enterprises in the coastal area of North Minahasa following the intervention of the ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity Programme in Indonesia.

Feature | 24 March 2023
Amelia Suheti Banea sees her family’s income increased from the recent success of her handicraft business. ©ILO
For Amelia Suheti Banea, a mother of three from Marinsow, a coastal village in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi Province, the recent success of her handicraft business is a big leap and an “unbelievable” experience.

Last year, she saw her handicrafts made from woods and coconut shells showcased at an exhibition in Jakarta. The government then arranged for her products to be exhibited at an event in Milan, Italy. Importantly, she is running a profitable business for the first time.

“I could not believe that I can sell my products,” said Ms Amelia.
Before this success, she had not even been able to make ends meet from a shop selling handicrafts, food and beverages, and a homestay.

“Our income then was insufficient to cover our cost of living,” she said.

She decided to focus on improving and expanding her handicraft business after completing two training courses on financial management and product development provided by the ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity Programme in Indonesia (SfP-Indonesia). The training helped her learn to save money and inspired her to produce handicrafts that are more creative in design and use of raw materials. Her product prices range from 10,000 to 300,000 rupiah (US$0.66–19.8).

Her husband, a construction worker and carpenter, also helps her run the business.

“My family income has increased since I started the new business after joining the training,” she said.

Coastal communities play a critical role in contributing to a sustainable and growing ocean economy. "

Michiko Miyamoto, Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Creating economic opportunities for marginalized communities, including women and young people, is one of the goals of SfP-Indonesia. The ILO-led training is part of the programme’s collaboration with the Manado State Polytechnic (Polimanado) and Klabat University (Unklab) to run a local economic development (LED) initiative in four coastal villages in North Sulawesi – Budo, Tiwoho, Marinsow, and Pulisan – since September 2020. Following the completion of the training, 451 trainees have received additional support to help incubate and develop sustainable micro-enterprises.

Juliani Makanaling has also seen her family’s income increased after expanding her fish-selling business. ©ILO
Juliani Makanaling, a trainee and a mother of one from Budo Village, has also seen her family’s income increase after expanding her fish-selling business. Before this, her only job was selling fish on the street in her village.

The training on financial management and marketing helped her learn to save money to buy a used motorcycle and use it as a vehicle to transport fish for sale in other villages.

She also learned to utilize Facebook as another platform for selling fish. Every day, she uploads information on available fish and takes orders from buyers online.

“I hope my business will continue to grow so I can buy a car to sell fish in bigger quantities and cover a bigger market,” said Ms Juliani.

Implemented from September 2020 to December 2022, SfP-Indonesia’s LED initiative has demonstrated a positive impact on local businesses and the economy, according to a qualitative assessment conducted by the University of Klabat in collaboration with the University of Gloucestershire, one of the four international partners of the programme.

The assessment involving a survey on 109 out of 451 trainees finds that 77.75% of respondents experienced an increase in monthly income after participating in the training. It also finds that this initiative has helped the local communities grow businesses, with 40% of respondents saying they have started new businesses and 37% that they have expanded their businesses through growth and diversification.

“There are hundreds more [coastal villages] in North Sulawesi alone,” said Valerie Julliand, UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia. “I hope that in time, partners in government can take inspiration and techniques from this model of development to support and empower many more women and coastal communities to be part of the transformation to a sustainable and inclusive ocean-based economy in Indonesia.”

The assessment also reveals progress in business formalization, with 33 businesses obtaining Business Identification Numbers (BIN) and three out of four Village-Owned Enterprises (BUMDES) now officially registered. In addition, 29% of respondents now have a bank account, and 81% utilized social media to support their business growth.

Other benefits of the training found in the assessment include greater self-confidence and resilience as well as awareness of environmental impacts.

This assessment also identifies challenges that limit some trainees’ ability to put their training into practice, including a lack of start-up capital and regulatory and legal support, environmental and health disruptions, changes in village management, and agency conflicts.

This LED initiative shows the ILO's commitment to the National Blue Agenda Action Partnership between the government and the United Nations in Indonesia launched at the G20 Summit last year.

Michiko Miyamoto, Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said: “Coastal communities play a critical role in contributing to a sustainable and growing ocean economy. By living and working sustainably within Indonesia’s rich natural environments and developing skills to support and improve their livelihoods, they can make an important contribution to the prosperity and economic recovery of the province. This collaboration has been a positive example of what can be achieved.”