An Indonesian food entrepreneur’s journey: Sanah’s story
Indonesia has a vibrant network of women entrepreneurs, but lack of access to working capital can prevent growth and scaling-up. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we celebrate one entrepreneur who has turned Indonesia’s love for krupuk into a thriving business.
Sanah is the end-client of Oikocredit partner Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (MBK), an Indonesian microfinance institute. This non-bank finance company has a significant presence in two of the most populous Indonesian islands, Java and Sumatra, and has 844 branches throughout Indonesia. MKB provides formal and cost-effective financial services through working capital loans solely for women.
MKB’s name translates as ‘Family Business Partners’. This reflects how improving financial inclusion has a significant impact on empowering women and improves the lives of their families. For Sanah and her husband, the family economy and spending quality time with their two children are very important.
From door to door to market stall
Krupuk is a beloved dish throughout Indonesia. It’s a crunchy cracker made from starch, flavoured with ingredients like fish, onion and chilli and eaten as a snack or accompaniment with meals.
In 2009, Sanah and her husband Muhidin started a business selling krupuk door to door. The initial finance came from a working capital loan of 900,000 IDR (€ 55) from MBK.
A year later, they decided to start producing the krupuk themselves. Knowing how popular the crackers are, Sanah saw the opportunity to raise productivity, grow the business and earn more money. She got a further MBK loan of 1.3 million IDR (€ 79).
This additional money enabled Sanah to buy ingredients at a more competitive price, and she expanded her business. “I was able to produce my own krupuk with my employees,” says Sanah.
Over the last 12 years, the business has grown from five to 30 employees. From the higher income generated by the business, Sanah was able to build a new house for her family, and she also bought a car and a motorbike.
Her old house has been renovated and is now used as the premises to produce the krupuk. Muhidin and the other male employees deep fry the crackers in large woks. A crew of women pack the krupuk, and the packets are then collected by motorbike for sale at the local market.
Working capital to empower women
Sanah has been an MBK client for 13 years.
MBK is one of the largest microfinance organisations in Indonesia. It provides working capital to low-income women and wants to reduce the vulnerability of the 1.52 million women it serves and improve their dignity and self-confidence.
Eradicating poverty and empowering women remain crucial challenges, and MBK estimates that 75% of its clients come from low-income families living below the official poverty line. It aims to contribute to the UN Sustainable Developments Goals, particularly fighting poverty and empowering women by stimulating the development of small businesses.
MBK operates in local communities, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas, to create significant self-employment opportunities for entrepreneurs like Sanah. This aligns with Oikocredit’s mission to increase the resilience of low-income communities and support positive livelihood improvements for low-income people.
MBK was one of the first microfinance pioneers to introduce the Grameen group lending method in Indonesia.
When MBK started in 2003, most traditional banks wouldn’t provide micro-loans to small business owners. Following the Grameen Bank methodology, MBK started to fill Indonesia’s microfinance gap by providing small loans to groups of women entrepreneurs mainly for income-generating activities.
Borrowers don’t have to open a bank account or provide security to obtain a loan. Loans are paid back in instalments over a year and must be repaid in full in order to qualify for follow-up working capital. Account officers visit clients in their village and all field staff are women.
Oikocredit first partnered with MBK in 2008 and has helped MBK to support self-employed women in Indonesia to build strong and sustainable businesses and a better future for their families.
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