Islamic Relief Waqf has extended its successful livelihoods programme to reach even more women in Indonesia.

With projects in Banten and West Sumatra already enabling scores of women to build a lasting livelihood, we have now introduced the scheme to West Lombok – in one of the country’s poorest provinces.

One of six women's groups participating in our livelihoods scheme in West Lombok.

One of six women’s groups participating in our livelihoods scheme in West Lombok.

Six women’s groups have been set up through the scheme, which launched in September with funding from our Waqf programme. Through the project, women are working together to cultivate mushrooms and make local delicacies to sell.

“Already, three out of six production units have been fully established,” said Syed Abdul Razak, Islamic Relief’s country director for Indonesia, explaining that each unit can produce between 600 to 800 kilograms of mushrooms a month.

“The first harvest is expected in February. It’s very exciting, because we know that only 30 per cent of the estimated demand in Lombok is being met locally at present. It’s a great opportunity for female entrepreneurs.”

Training, support and connections for business success

Each women’s group is supported by technical training delivered by Islamic Relief, as well as all necessary equipment and raw material.

Andhie Hertanto leads our technical team, which provides training and technical support to help participants build successful businesses. Andhie is impressed by the commitment demonstrated by the women.

“We are overwhelmed by the level of participation and the interest women are showing in pursuing mushroom-based businesses to supplement their household incomes,” he said.

As an active member of the province’s mushroom forum – which connects mushroom producers, suppliers and other stakeholders – Andhie explained how the forum is enabling women to build their businesses.

“All women’s groups have been linked with the mushroom forum to ensure extended marketing opportunities,” he said. “If a group is unable to sell its produce due to the lack of mobility or resources, the forum itself will buy their mushrooms.”

A brighter future at Al Muslamin Boarding School

Ibu Haja Sapurya is one of the women involved in the project. As founder and president of the Al Muslamin Boarding School, she established the only school in her village. It provides elementary, primary, and secondary education to 700 students – including 450 girls and 40 orphaned children – many of whom come from as far away as East Lombok to study.

A kilogram mushroom-based products can fetch up to Rp. 150,000.

A kilogram mushroom-based products can fetch up to Rp. 150,000.

Ibu Sapurya was keen to establish a sustainable source of income for the popular school, which was struggling to keep up with demand for its services. Islamic Relief helped her to set up a production unit on the school grounds – and she is already full of ideas, planning to sell 60 per cent of the crop as mushrooms, and turn the rest into local delicacies.

“Once we obtain our first harvest in February 2015, Andhie will train us in the production of ‘crispy nuggets’ and other mushroom-based products that are in high demand in the local market,” she said. “A kilogram of raw mushrooms would fetch Rp. 25,000 (USD $2.30) but these products can generate up to Rp. 150,000 (USD $13.50) per kilo.”

As well as providing the school with an income, the project is also improving the long-term prospects of students.

“Once they graduate and leave [the school], they will be able to set up their own mushroom production units and become financially independent,” Ibu said.

A previous project funded by Waqf in Sumatra, Indonesia, benefitted 90 women – who developed their business to see products sold widely across the country and exported to Singapore. The Indonesian government has since replicated our scheme elsewhere.

Islamic Relief began working in Indonesia since 2000, providing emergency aid and development projects with a focus on sustainable livelihoods. Our work has been most recently recognised by government and civic society in Nusa Tenggara Barat province.