Du’Anyam: Every Slipper, Every Story
- Angela Upitya
- Social entrepreneurship could be one way to help and sustain the economical and social aspects especially in Indonesia. To see young people helping the mothers and people in one of the poorest area in Indonesia by Du’Anyam, gives us hope and some thought that we can do it to. We can do anything to make a better life for those who need it.
- Reimi Nakoji
- Du'Anyam を創業した社会起業家はみな若い女性たちです。女性ならではの視点で貧困状態にあるインドネシアの妊婦さんやお母さんたちを支える。彼女らの行動力に圧倒されるとともに私たちにも何か出来るのではないかという思いにさせられました。
- Sayaka Sasajima
In the island of Flores, Indonesia, being pregnant isn’t an excuse to stop working in the fields. In fact, 80% of the mothers surveyed worked in farms during pregnancy. The first question that would come to your mind would be, “Why?” For us, it’s common sense for pregnant women to prioritize their body during pregnancy not only for themselves but for the baby. However, for the people in Flores, it was the only way of survival. Not only it is a source of income but it’s also a primary source of food. Most of their husbands are employed in other province or country, many in the Malaysian palm oil fields, to make a living. Therefore, women are responsible for taking care of their field in Flores and it doesn’t matter whether they’re pregnant or not. Furthermore, 75% of the mothers do not have cash to participate in the Indonesian government organized pregnancy savings plan. As a result, it has a very high maternal mortality rate and 25% of the mothers surveyed had experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.
A group of 6 women all friends from middle or high school stood up to bring change to this situation. They started a social enterprise, “Du’Anyam” or “mother weaving” in local language, with a mission to economically empower women by providing alternative employment, “weaving”, in place of agriculture. The story goes back to when they were in middle school when 2 of the 6 founders participated in the social project and came up with a business plan that encouraged young people in Indonesia to go to museums. Since that time, they had a mind to bring change to the society. But it wasn’t until 2013 that they actually came up with the idea to build a social enterprise. They started by doing some surveys in the island of Flores where HDI (human development index) ranks 31st out of 33 provinces in Indonesia, to find out the current situation and problem. They chose “mother” as a target for change because all of the social problems including human trafficking, sanitary, health, etc, all result from the lack of mentality which is developed in their childhood as their mothers teach them. They also chose “weaving” because it was their tradition that was almost dying out due to low demand and because it was something easy that even pregnant women can do while resting. Their goal was to bring employment to the women so that they can earn money and gain access to health service and proper nutrition.
The important point is that it is not a NPO that relies on funding but a social enterprise. It needs business sustainability. Some of their main customers, the tourist in Bali, are “used to having high quality product”. Hanna, one of the founder stated, “The quality must always be high”. In order to keep up the high quality of products, Du’anyam keeps a grading system. They grade the product that the weaver made from A to D. A meaning they pay full price for the product, B meaning they pay about 70%, C meaning they pay 50% and D meaning that they won’t even consider it as a product. If the quality of the product dies, their business will die too and that is why they keep a strict grading system.
Being a social enterprise, there were obviously many difficulties. At first it was hard to get the initial investment. There are no other companies that do the same kind of business so it was hard to them to be understood. They walked around about 200 resorts in Bali and asked them to use their slippers in their hotels one by one. She recalls that many times, Du’Anyam was helped by medias. By being introduced in some popular TV shows, they would get request for using their products. However at the same time, even if they get request from hotels, sometimes they have to bring down the order. It is because their products are made by hand and considered not a mass production. Since it is not a normal company but a social enterprise, it makes no sense to replace the hand of the women in Flores with a machine.
Though it has only been a year since they started selling the product, it is already starting to give a great impact to the women in Flores. Each product they make, in about 2 days, they earn about $2-$3. This is a great deal compared to agriculture in which you earn about $1.6 for every kilogram of cashew nuts they have collected. With less pressure on pregnant women to do agricultural work, it has provided greater awareness of safe maternal health care practices. The additional cash they have earned are used to cover transportation and accommodation costs associated with childbirth. In addition, one episode teaches us that this move can also change men. One woman in Flores, when she started the weaving, her husband got mad for her having lesser time to spend on housework. However, when he saw her earn money from the weaving, he became more cooperative in chores.
So what is Du’Anyam heading to? What’s their next achievement? To my delight, they are hoping to spread their market to Japan. It is the only country that has a habit of wearing slippers inside the house and that’s where they found their big business chance. Hanna also mentioned that she wants Du’Anyam to be like “Muji”, a Japanese store popular for its diversity in product, quality and simple designs. She hopes to expand product diversity and “have everything you needs for living” in the store of Du’Anyam.
Finally, all the products from Du’Anyam, from slippers to baskets, are filled with life dramas. It may be stories from a woman in Flores who worked hard during her pregnancy so that she could safely give birth to a healthy baby. It could also be stories of Du’Anyam’s founders of who worked hard day and night to bring the best quality products into market. Each of these stories is what makes their products unique and special.