Inside the Life of a Micro-Entrepreneur in Indonesia

Even when a woman or man is finally able to access lending and savings opportunities, as well as training in basic business skills, the road out of poverty is still never easy. In this interview, Supiati, who lives outside of Jakarta, Indonesia, shares her story and discusses the impact her husband's medical condition has had on her income-generating activities. Fortunately, Five Talents and our local partner, The Gerhati Foundation, help group members in Jakarta's slums gain access to free medical services on a quarterly basis.


Earlier this year, there was a lot of flooding in Jakarta. How did this impact your business?
It happened suddenly at night and so we had made no preparations. We acted quickly to keep the electronic goods safe by placing them on top of the tables and cupboard. By that time, the water had already risen to below my knees. We all had to move out of the house for weeks and stayed at a place near the traditional market, a place where the floodwaters did not reach. Unfortunately, I was unable to open up my kiosks, and so fell behind with the loan installment.

How did Five Talents through our partner organization The Gerhati Foundation help you during this time?
I am grateful that we were granted some leniency [on our loan repayment]. Also, we received three separate packages of donated goods during the flood, as well as free access to a medical clinic. I thank God for Gerhati who also helped us with an additional emergency loan.

Since first joining the Five Talents program, how has your business developed?
I made chicken porridge in the past, but I failed. Other people were selling the same thing. Afterward, I tried to cook light meals that kids usually like, such as eggs and instant noodles. It is running well and I sense the need to get into the business more seriously. I can now buy things I need to support the business, like a refrigerator that lets me keep a good stock of ice cubes, drinks, and pop ice. [My] glassy display case is also another thing I bought with the micro-business loan.

How has your growing business helped to improve your life and that of your family?
I can feed and send my children to school. I can build a room for a kiosk in front of my house. Although there are many similar businesses around, I still have customers who come and buy from me.

What's one challenge or worry that can keep you up at night?
My husband has been sick for months, and I use much of the proceeds from the kiosk for his medication. We are not so sure what kind of sickness he has been afflicted with. We have been to both clinics and [a traditional healer].

How has your loan group supported you during this time?
When my husband became sick, I got help from people who came and supported us financially for his medical treatment. It was like help from above. Now, there is a big change in my husband's attitude. He doesn't get easily angry, nor does he speak harshly to me or with others. Somehow our relationship has gotten better.

Help more women like Supiati build a brighter future. Make a tax-deductible gift to Five Talents today.