Motorcycles and Fish Cakes: A Riverside Business Boom

Susilowaty is a mother to four from a low-income community in Indonesia. She runs a light meal business, serving customers alongside the riverfront.

Her specialty is fish cakes wrapped with banana leaves. Susilowaty's business has gone through various phases but it was only after she developed the discipline of saving that she's seen it blossom.

"I never bothered to save money back then; we had lots of needs to meet and that made savings the least important thing to do."

Susilowaty and her husband both worked, but their income was minimal.

"I used to live a very humble life, enough to get by. My husband's earnings could only cover our day-to-day needs."

Her husband's income came from ferrying goods and customers on a hired motorcycle. He needed to pay rent for the motorcycle on a daily basis, and of course there was their house rent, food, and the needs of four school-aged children.

At the advice of friends, Susilowaty joined a small savings group with other businesswomen. She began attending workshops on money management, savings, and practical business skills.

"These trainings [helped] motivate us to keep going. I used the proceeds from sales to keep the business rolling and to add something new like mixed rice."

With a special local recipe for mixed rice alongside her fish cakes, Susilowaty gradually expanded business at her riverside stand. She increased sales, introduced new products and began to reach new markets. The extra income proved to be a major boost for her family.

"The situation has changed a lot from what it was like before. I gained more experience in business and knowledge too. Now I can meet my children's wants."

As a result of being in a small group, Susilowaty cultivated a habit of saving. She's used her savings to continually grow her business. She's also managed to set aside enough cash to buy a motorcycle for her husband.

He no longer hires a motorcycle on a daily basis. As a result his profit margin has increased substantially too. Susilowaty says their family is "not late anymore in paying monthly house rent", their children no longer "complain about their meals", and they "have spare money to give to the needy."

Now one of her greatest challenges is that neighbors are envious of her growing business.

It's amazing what a little business training and savings can do for families, fish cakes and motorcycles.

Learn more about Five Talents programs in Indonesia.