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Pivoting in the pandemic: how small businesses are surviving

By Opportunity International Australia

In a year that has been punishing for business owners around the world, it’s those living in poverty whose livelihoods are most affected by illness, lockdowns, travel restrictions, and forced closures. For our microfinance clients in India and Indonesia, 2021 continues to be an extraordinarily challenging year.

Yet, in the face of some of the most crippling challenges of our lifetimes, stories are emerging of incredible resilience, resourcefulness, creativity and determination. Your support ensures our partners and clients can keep working hard to keep their businesses alive.

Meet some of our Indonesian clients with remarkable resilience and entrepreneurial spirits:

Asri carrying seaweed from the water


When she couldn’t sell fish in nearby villages due to their restrictions on receiving goods from out of town, as well as price markdowns, Asri Markus invested in and increased the seaweed cultivation part of her business.

Siti making her famous satay


Siti Aminah’s income has decreased by almost 50 per cent since the pandemic. With support and assistance from our partner, YCAB Ventures, her satay business in West Jakarta will be secure through tough times. She is now able to meet her daily needs and provide for her children’s education.

Nursanti and her handmade figurines


Micro-entrepreneurial mother Nursanti pivoted to online sales in order to survive the economic strain caused by the pandemic. She makes and sells 60 pairs of traditional Ondel-Ondel figurines – which feature in folk performances and festivals – per week. E-commerce has greatly expanded her market. Ibu Nursanti is now able to buy internet data to support her daughter’s online learning via mobile phone.

Rahel at her weaving business


Since 2007, Rahel Ratu has been making beautiful woven fabrics in Oepura subdistrict, Kupang City. But it has become more and more difficult to turn a profit. Rahel recently boosted her weaving business with an investment in a selection of new yarns, increasing her product range and appeal.

Retno standing besides her snack stall


In addition to running a business, widow and single mum Retno Suratmi is the head of her loan group and a trained Health Leader. When COVID-19 dramatically reduced the income from her snack stall, she worked longer hours and added new products to generate sales. This and restructuring her repayments helped her stay afloat. Her understanding of infection control has helped her family and community manage the risk of COVID-19.

Oom working as a domestic helper


Before Covid, Oom Komalasari prepared street food early in the morning for her husband to sell from a pushcart. When social restrictions closed their business early in the pandemic, Ibu Oom sought work as a domestic helper to make ends meet. As Indonesia slowly adapts to a ‘new normal’, Ibu Oom is grateful for the business capital that has enabled her to start up food sales again. The Komalasaris are proud to be able to support their son’s university education.

Read more stories of innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic in our 2020 annual review.

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