Our first graduating class


The business women of Pertiwi

These 14 ladies have worked hard, been careful how they manage their resources, and been faithful in paying back their first $100 loan, then their $200 loan, and now after a good year of effort they are receiving their third and final loan of $300. Their achievement is quite special and sets them apart as models of entrepreneurship among our community of 1,138 members.

For this special occasion, we had with us Sacha Huijsman a Micro Lending expert from the Netherlands who pointed out that a MicroLoan enterprise such as ours is usually developed by institutions and not individuals. She encouraged us by affirming our best practices procedures.
It is all about people who truly care for others. Our founder Ibu Sora cared enough to reach out to those who were different than her, yet shared a common need to live in dignity and raise their children to be people that do good.
I had the privilege of meeting Ibu Marcona of Desa Katang Rejo. She decided to use her first loan to support her husband’s vegetable

IMG_3979 - Version 2

Ibu Marcona to my left with the black hijab

business. It was a good investment and she was able to pay her loan on time.

While working with him, she noticed that there was an opportunity for making Tempeh, a healthy soy bean snack that everyone loves. She started selling it to resellers who loved her product. She applied for and received a second loan of $200. The additional cash enabled her to make about 1 kilo per day. Her Tempeh was so good that soon, she had demand for up to 6 kilos per day!
She now has received her third loan of $300 and she will continue to grow her business, employing a couple more ladies to increase her production. Ibu Marcona is but one example of the 14 stories these ladies lives represent. Her two children are going to school and have the blessing of eating well and living healthy.
Our dream is to see our current clients grow and fully develop their skills and business acumen. In doing so, their families gain dignity and respect for themselves as they are lifted from the endless poverty cycle. In turn, they enhance the quality of life and the economy of their communities, creating a more just existence for all.
We have 1,000 new ladies ready to start this process. Each one of them needs $100 to start their business and change their lives.
We aim to raise $100,000 to make this happen. Will you join us and give through Next Step? Your gift will be solely used for the ladies of Medan.

The truth isn’t “sexy”*

Terrorism, sex trafficking, water availability and poverty are the most pressing issues of our day. The impact they have in our daily lives boggles the mind.

A lot of time and money has been invested to deal with these issues yet they remain and continue to get worse.

Is there anything anyone can really do? Are there real solutions?

While at the 21st FICA conference in Columbus, Ohio, I met with a group of Indonesian university students who spent three full days discussing the Development of Small Manufacturing in Indonesia.

As we looked deeply into the issues it became apparent to me that the urgent conditions that have arrested our attention are but symptoms of a much greater problem. The root issue goes deeper and it starts in the village.

While the urban sector represents the majority of the global population, the rural sector still contains 47% of the total population (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs).

Every day large numbers leave their villages and flock to cities looking for a better future. In these cities, a few find employment but must live in deplorable conditions, while most simply languish, adding daily to the explosive growth of slums. I have been in slums from Jakarta to Cairo and the conditions are very similar. Most would like to return “home” but with no jobs, there is little incentive to return.

Langkat, a fisherman village north of Medan

Langkat, a fisherman village north of Medan

Last May, I visited Jentera, Karang Rejo and Langkat, three villages around Medan in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. I went with Ibu Sora who lives in Medan and for the last year has been running a Micro Loan scheme which she started with her own funds. She now has 1,000 women as her clients!

Each one of these ladies borrowed $100 with a commitment to pay it back in six months, $5 each week. They now run thriving consumable business, assisting their husbands in the support of their families. They are living examples that life in the village can work and work well!

By developing small industries that emerge from within the context and values of the local people, a world of positive and sustainable change can come, creating opportunities for honest employment and development.

A few friends have come to similar conclusions and are focusing their efforts towards sustainable development at the “village” level.

FICA and the Indonesian students in the USA are pursuing opportunities which can change the direction of a generation of people.

I’m joining them and encourage you to look deeper and support efforts which focus on the deeper issues.

*I first heard of “The truth isn’t sexy” from Shannon Hopkins, a fellow warrior investing her life serving people in London

[author title=”Author” author_id=””][share title=”Share” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”]