Indonesia Expat

Usaha KecilKU: Empowering Stay-at-Home Mothers

Choosing between going back to work and looking after the family is a tough decision for mothers, but there are many in Indonesia who unfortunately just do not have this choice. Recently, the sustainable programme Usaha KecilKU (UKKU) was established to help underprivileged stay-at-home mums become real entrepreneurs.

Earlier this month, the company Most Valued Brands (MVB) Indonesia launched UKKU in an attempt to support unfortunate stay-at-home mums develop their own small businesses. The sustainable programme was specifically developed for these ladies because MVB Indonesia believes that it can empower them to work while also caring for their families.

Speaking to Indonesia Expat, MVB Indonesia’s Chief Executive Eamonn Sadler revealed that “this small business can be set up and run from home so that the ladies are still able to look after their homes and families as necessary.”

Indeed, these days more and more women are increasingly prioritizing careers over family life. But sadly this is out of necessity and not out of choice. They either become a working mother and earn money, or stay at home to look after the children but suffer financially.

UKKU came up with the idea of providing these women with the facilities required in running a small business. When the project first began, ten women were selected to participate based on their financial situations (they must be living below the poverty line) and their potential to change their fate. After passing the selection process, they were given three months worth of stock to open up their own businesses, where in the end they get to keep the obtained profits.

For instance, they get to set up their own warung that comes complete with products that will be sold and the furniture in it. Not only that, UKKU provides training and further assistance until these mothers can really stand on their own two feet in the long run.

“The ladies are also trained in small business management and accounting so that they can become truly independent businesspeople in their own right.

We give them a start and the training they need to succeed. After that we provide ongoing support until such time as they can survive on their own,” Sadler said.

The sustainable programme also collaborates with the foundation Yayasan Biji Sesawi or Full Life Community and is also supported by nine members of MVB Indonesia including Coca Cola Amatil, Telkomsel and IKEA Indonesia.

Sadler described the partnership as “purely voluntary”, where both parties make no profit from the programme nor do they charge the women for receiving the stock, service or training.

Partners like Coca Cola Amatil have contributed by holding entrepreneurial workshops, while Telkom has given the selected women free smartphones.

“With these smartphones they are able to facilitate the payment of various bills for their customers as well as being able to sell credit to mobile phone users. They receive a small commission for each of these transactions,” Sadler explained of the collaboration with Telkom.

UKKU was essentially built to show how companies should fulfil their commitment in supporting the community, and in this case supporting and empowering women. MVB Indonesia itself has always been familiar with sustainability and environmentally friendly projects, which in turn helps those with the determination to build a better world.

In this regard, the notion of women’s empowerment is an important message that MVB Indonesia wishes to further spread. The fight for gender equality has in fact been an ongoing worldwide issue, although Sadler finds that Indonesia seems to be handling this better than most countries.

“The whole world has a long way to go before women and men are truly treated equally without question, but Indonesia is doing its part and doing very much better than many other comparable countries. In fact, women are better represented in Indonesian government than in many other around the world,” he revealed.

Regardless, he clarified that UKKU was not designed as a movement or to criticize the progress of gender equality, but instead it simply serves to contribute to empowering women in Indonesia.

Yet while gender equality remains a serious task for women from all around the globe, UKKU has proved to us why working mothers should never be undervalued in our society.

“Women are just as capable and hard-working as men and in many cases more so. The proof is already out there, you just need to make people sit up and take notice,” Sadler said.

In the future, Sadler hopes that the number of stay-at-home mothers and partners involved in the programme will rise. But in the meantime, he and his team are planning on continuing on training the existing ten women:

“We will monitor and adapt the existing programme until we are happy that it can be replicated without repeating the inevitable mistakes we make at the beginning. Then we plan to bring more and more ladies into the programme as time and resources allow.”

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