Indonesia: Making a difference through microfinance

News and Press Release
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By Wilda Anggraeni, press officer for the American Red Cross in Indonesia

Brave, strong, independent and steadfast are the first impressions one has of 50 year-old Nasriah.She is one of many tsunami-affected women in Aceh who serve as the head of their families and are the sole income earners.

Every morning she walks more than a mile from her house in Blang Krueng village to the Krueng Aceh River. After harvesting oysters, she shucks them and prepares them to be sold at the market. Nasriah, a mother of six, lost her husband and two of her children to the 2004 tsunami. She began gathering and selling oysters after the disaster to support her remaining family.She had little help, meager resources and no access to a boat, making this already arduous work even more difficult.

Nasriah recently received a small loan to support her growing business from Yayasan Mitra Duafa (Yamida), an Indonesia microfinance institution supported by the American Red Cross in partnership with the Grameen Foundation.

Nasriah is using her credit to buy a small boat that will increase her oyster yield and cut down on the harvesting time. Like other Yamida clients, Nasriah will be required to repay her loan in small installments every week. Once the loan has been repaid, Nasriah will be eligible for another, larger loan.

Nasriah is one of the approximately ninety other women in her village that received loans from Yamida. As part of the loan program, she will attend weekly meetings with her lending group and the Yamida field officer as well as financial management trainings. This support system is an integral and important way to ensure sustainability and success.

The Grameen microfinance model focuses primarily on women, specifically targeting those who lack access to formal sources of credit and play a key role in supporting their families. This program will support tsunami-affected women who already have or plan to start small enterprises, including grocery stalls, fish and vegetable markets, coffee shops, weaving and selling pandan rugs and dressmaking.

Mariani, a 27 year-old mother of four, recently received her third loan from Yamida. She received her first loan, used to support her small business making and selling karah (Acehnese cake), last year when she and her family were living in a temporary shelter after losing their home to the tsunami.

With Yamida's help, Mariani has expanded her business to include a small grocery shop in Blang Krueng. Mariani's increasing income means that she can now provide for her family's needs and pay for her children's school fees.

"I'm glad because I can now send my children to school," she says. "My husband and I only completed junior high school but I hope that my children will be more educated."

The American Red Cross began providing livelihoods assistance in Aceh immediately after the tsunami with cash-for-work opportunities. Soon after, the American Red Cross began working with UN agencies and NGOs to assist tsunami-affected families, from fishers and rice paddy farmers to market vendors and small business owners, in reestablishing their livelihoods.

Through its strategic partnership with the Grameen Foundation, the American Red Cross is helping more than 17,500 women in Aceh Besar and Aceh Jaya gain new skills and ensure stable incomes over the long term, leading to stronger, more resilient families and communities.

About the American Red Cross:

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