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Ratna’s sweet business supporting her family

By Opportunity International Australia

Life is tough for 40-year-old Ratna, who lives with her husband and three daughters in a village on the remote island of Rote, in eastern Indonesia. Her eldest son is at university in Kupang.

Indonesia is one of our nearest neighbours, but sadly up to 62 million people live in poverty.

Ratna standing outside house

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Indonesia’s poverty rates (US$3.65 per person per day) have steadily declined from 47 per cent in 2011 to 22 per cent in 2021. However, rural poverty rates remain higher than national averages.

There are about 63 million micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), accounting for nearly 97 per cent of domestic employment, however well over half of these entrepreneurs do not have access to financial institutions. Similarly, almost half of the population in Indonesia is still without a bank account.

Families living in rural and remote areas are often the poorest and are also less likely to have access to the tools they need to leave poverty behind. Families often lack access to healthcare, education and other essential services like water. Ratna’s home is small, their sleeping quarters are cramped and making sure there is enough food for the family over the years hasn’t been easy.

Ratna worries about her children’s health and nutrition, but often has only been able to provide corn mixed with brown sugar, because there’s not enough money for healthier options. Her husband Hermanus works as a seaweed farmer but doesn’t earn enough to provide for his family’s needs.

Ratna also worries about their educational opportunities and struggles to afford school fees. Two of her daughters are in primary school and their daughter Anse, who has just finished junior school, dreams of one day becoming an artist.

Ratna and her family in Rote

Sadly, Anse has recently been forced to pause her studies and instead helps her mum at home because there is no local high school. Like many in the village, the family are unable to afford to send Anse to main city of Baa, away from her familiar surroundings to finish high school.

“I only wish my children could finish high school. I work hard in my business so all my children can have a good future.” - Ratna.

Today thanks to a small loan from one of Opportunity’s partners, life is slowly turning around for Ratna’s family, and she has been able to create her own cake-baking business. She used her cooking skills to start her own business making and selling cakes to earn a reliable income. She’s quite the entrepreneur, from profits raised she has also created another arm to the business, buying a fridge so she can create ice and ice lollies to sell in her local community.

Ratna making banana cakes

Each morning Ratna rises at 3am and cooks for several hours before selling her cakes door-to-door. Money raised is going to help Ratna and her children pave the way to a brighter future. She keeps any extra earnings in a piggy bank, saving for her daughter’s education.

In the second half of 2021, despite the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, Opportunity International Australia continued to support vulnerable families – expanding our reach in Indonesia last year by 12 per cent. This growth continues to change lives in 2022.

Thanks to your support, 1,368,643 families in Indonesia are accessing the small loans and financial services that can help them leave poverty behind.

This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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