Stories of Change

Mama Yance and her husband Samuel wearing traditional ikat textiles.

CWS efforts in Indonesia positively impacted more than 17,000 people in 16 communities last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Group savings, expanded businesses in Indonesia

Yance Tefa is better known by Mama Yance in her community in remote southern West Timor. She lives with her husband and four kids, who range from four to 16 and are all students.

Like most of her neighbors, Mama Yance is a household farmer. She raises pigs for her primary income, while many of her neighbors raise corn or other crops. In addition to her pigs, Mama Yance and her daughter also earn income by weaving traditional ikat fabric for ceremonial shawls – which are worn in weddings and funerals – and blankets. She can sell these items for a nice profit.

Mama Yance is doing better now than she was even a few years ago. She has recently expanded her weaving business, and she has also increased her farming activities. She now has a vegetable garden, which has helped improve her family’s diet while providing yet another income stream.

These improvements happened because Mama Yance is both ambitious and diligent, and CWS was able to support her accordingly. CWS has been supporting the women of this community through our Berdaya (“Empowerment”) Initiative for the past year. The program, which is funded by long-time partner Week of Compassion, focuses on helping women and girls. It has been enthusiastically received here, particularly among mothers.

One of the main advances that Berdaya helped the community make was to start a savings group. We didn’t need to provide funding. Instead, our team provided some technical assistance, advice and a lot of encouragement. “A year before CWS came to this village, I and some other mothers were working with textile buyers from nearby Soe town to sell our ikat in Kupang. Kupang is our biggest city and a place where we could potentially have more customers. However, the problem we faced was the lack of enough capital to buy thread and other materials in large quantities, so the number of ikat scarves we could weave was small. The profits we had from selling our pigs or vegetables was quite small, with not much left after we paid our bills each month,” Mama Yance explains.

Forming the savings group enabled the women to get that capital that they needed. “When CWS approached us about Berdaya a year ago, we figured we could learn a lot and benefit ourselves through the education and training being offered. And, we were right, especially in creating our savings group! We started with $23 of our own money; after just four months we had $61, which we used, in small loans to individual members, to buy yarn and other weaving supplies and tools.”

Thanks to CWS, the group also learned about basic bookkeeping, business opportunity assessment and planning, market assessments and marketing ideas. With these principles in mind, Mama Yance was able to move from one $15 loan – which she repaid quickly after selling two shawls for a nice profit – to another, and then another. Each time, she increased her inputs (thread) and outputs (shawls and blankets) to grow her profits. During four months she wove six shawls and two blankets. She sold four shawls and both blankets for $69 in profit!

“With this assistance from CWS, I would like to encourage all members of Berdaya-inspired savings group to try new business opportunities since we all have the benefit securing start-up loans. For those of us weaving ikat textiles, I hope that our collaboration with the buyers from Soe will continue to go well so that our handiwork can be regularly and increasingly sold in Kupang for more and more profit,” Mama Yance says. In addition to profit, Mama Yance and dozens of other women in West Timor are increasing their pride alongside their profits by bringing their talents to bear for their families in improved livelihoods and well being.