The owner of “Pirlisae” handicraft business, 44-year old Lenirawati Susila Fitri, is among the five women recognized for achieving “Best Progress” at the Batch 2 Business Incubation program, a continuation of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas’ collaboration with Yayasan Doktor Sjahrir (YDS) – Womenpreneur Community (WPC). The program, which is aimed at nurturing and advancing women-led Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), contributes to their financial independence and overall regional economic growth.
Over the next few weeks, APP will showcase the women who have successfully grown their business after implementing new strategies picked up during the incubation program.
Lenirawati discovered her affinity for making plates from palm fronds in 2014 through a quick three-day course, and acquired her new skills in just 2 hours. In 2019, she was inspired after seeing these plates at a wedding and decided to pursue the craft again by starting her own business with her husband's support. She started off by giving these plates to her friends, and by January 2020, she had received her very first order of 10 dozen plates.
Priced at IDR 60,000 (US$3.96) per dozen, these plates sold out as quickly as they were made, which supported Lenirawati’s family through the pandemic. After the fanfare died down, she saw a decline in her sales and income so she racked her brain for new ideas to promote her business.
Earlier this year, Lenirawati joined the Business Incubation program through an opportunity presented by the Indah Kiat Perawang mill during a handicraft workshop. The program provided her with valuable knowledge and insight on how to grow her business, a key takeaway being the proper way to expand her enterprise.
“I never would have guessed that simply posting the photos of my handicraft and my contact information on Facebook would bring in so many inquiries and orders,” Lenirawati said.
With the new influx of orders, she had to rope in her husband and children to help with production. Now, the business has become a significant source of income for their household, bringing in “around IDR 3-4 million (US$197.77-263.70) per month,” according to Lenirawati’s estimate.
This is especially beneficial for her and her family, considering the low prices of the raw material Lenirawati gathers for her crafts.
“The palm fronds are sold at IDR 5,000 to 10,000 (US$0.33-0.66) per sack,” she said. “The fronds are mostly discarded as trash but I can turn it into treasure.”
Lenirawati's products are popular among resellers who have buyers across Indonesia, and her expertise is sought after as she has been asked to demonstrate her skills at a local school's arts and crafts class.
Over the 4-month program, she was impressed by the dedication of the mentors and the intensive and informative learning sessions. Moving forward, she aims to apply the acquired knowledge to further improve and expand her business. Nevertheless, she expects to face new challenges in running her business, which she plans to tackle with determination and her newfound expertise from the incubation program.
The second batch of the Business Incubation program ran from May to August 2023, providing a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of entrepreneurship. Participants received training on essential business elements, including production processes, product development, diversification, group management, and strengthening, as well as financial literacy and product marketing. By equipping female entrepreneurs with these skills, APP is not only supporting individual businesses but also laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth in the regions where it operates.
At the end of the program, participants were assessed based on several parameters, such as active participation in discussions, discipline, persistence, response to feedback, and overall progress. This evaluation process ensured that they remained engaged and motivated throughout the program.
The positive impact of the Business Incubation program, however, extends beyond the individual participants. As female entrepreneurs like Lenirawati grow and succeed, they become role models, which encourages other women to pursue entrepreneurship. This ripple effect can lead to a significant increase in women-led businesses, fostering inclusive economic growth.
The ultimate goal of the Business Incubation program is to create independent entrepreneurs who can drive positive change in their families and communities. By fostering a supportive ecosystem and providing the necessary knowledge and skills, the program aims to create job opportunities in local communities and transform MSME actors into champions of family income who will inspire other women to become entrepreneurs as well.