International Women's Day

Transforming Indonesian women into entrepreneurs

The ILO-UK Skills for Prosperity Programme in Indonesia has equipped women in coastal villages with practical and relevant entrepreneurial skills.

Feature | 08 March 2022
Lentce Jois Tumundo leads women in her village to turn around the village-owned enterprise. ©ILO
Like most women in Indonesia’s rural villages, Lentce Jois Tumundo’s main daily work activities are focused on providing for and maintaining her household. However, she believes women can play a greater role in community life and drive their villages’ economic growth.

Four years ago, she started leading a women’s group in her coastal farming and fishing village of Tiwoho in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, to manage various empowerment activities and turn around the village-owned enterprise.

Locally known as BumDES, village-owned enterprises are initiatives funded by the Indonesian government to encourage the development of rural entrepreneurship and economic growth in rural areas through using local resources. The enterprise in Tiwoho had been established for years, though activities largely focused on the sale of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

However, Lentce had ambitions to expand and diversify village enterprise activities and engage more women to improve their livelihoods.

The only thing that stood between Lentce and her dream was the lack of relevant skills. So last year she decided to join business development and management training courses offered by the Skills for Prosperity programme in Indonesia (SfP-Indonesia).

Equipping villagers with entrepreneurial skills

Funded by the UK Government and delivered in Indonesia by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the programme was launched in September 2020 across four of the country’s provinces with the goal of improving the population’s employability in the booming maritime sector.

We will involve more women to run this business once it’s ready."

Lentce Jois Tumundo, women's group's leader in Tiwoho village
In North Sulawesi, SfP-Indonesia aims to spur local development through increasing economic opportunities for coastal villagers, particularly women and youth. It does this by offering various entrepreneurial training courses for both women and men and improving availability and access to business and financial services.

Last year, the programme trained over 200 people from Tiwoho and Budo, a neighbouring village. It equipped them with enterprise-related knowledge and relevant skills, such as community asset mapping, business development, human resources management, marketing and financial planning, and product development.

The training provided participants like Lentce with insights into how to maximise the economic potential of their localities.

“For years, we’d got stuck with our LPG business. After joining the training, we’ve developed ideas on how to develop and expand our business. We are now starting to sell rice and planning some other businesses”, says Lentce. “The business is now run more professionally. We can evaluate our financial status and allocate some budget for business development”, she adds.

The women’s group in Tiwoho has also started producing snacks and handcrafts for sale.

“Previously we just ate banana ourselves. Now, we produce banana chips and sell them in our community and elsewhere. We make them unique by adding sambal (chilli sauce) as a topping. People in North Sulawesi love to eat banana with sambal”, she states.

Generating green business opportunities

Located near the world-famous diving spot Bunaken National Park, both Tiwoho and Budo villages have an enormous potential to further develop the local tourism industry. That’s why SfP-Indonesia’s “Start Your Own Green Business” training conducted in 2021, which was attended by over 400 people from both villages, was helpful for the local population. Covering topics such as environmentally friendly materials, waste management, and water and energy use, it focused on equipping villagers with the skills to start ecotourism businesses.

As a result of the training, both Tiwoho and Budo developed eco-friendly mangrove trails, made of wood and bamboo, and transformed them into popular tourist destinations and income sources for local communities. Mangroves are excellent at storing carbon and stopping it from entering the atmosphere and reduce the impact of storms and sea level rise, so this initiative also has a positive climate impact.

“Women took part in the mangrove trail business by selling our products there. We sell food, snacks, and handicrafts made from eco-friendly materials or recycled plastic”, notes Lentce.

Looking ahead, the village-owned enterprise plans to develop a green homestay business, in which women will also play a key role in management and operation.

“The construction of homestays will use eco-friendly materials from our village. We will keep water and electricity use at a minimum and avoid single-use plastic. We even plan to use dining utensils from bamboo, coconut shells, and other green materials”, adds Lentce.

“We received training on hospitality such as greeting guests, preparing rooms and food, as well as handling complaints. We will involve more women to run this business once it’s ready”, she concludes.