Stories of Change

Reni fries doughnuts every morning to sell in her cafe.

Realizing a DREAM in Indonesia

Reni Sattu and her family live in a remote, rural village in Indonesia. It’s about 25 miles from the nearest town. 

When your home is that remote, there are a lot of services that you don’t have easy access to. One of the services on the list? Banking.

Years ago, Reni approached a bank in a bigger city. Her husband’s income was barely paying the family’s daily bills, and she knew they needed more. She wanted to start her own business, a cafe based out of her home. That’s when she found out that her family’s meager income prevented her from being eligible for a bank loan. Her only other option was to borrow from an informal lender…a loan shark. She knew loan sharks would bring trouble, but it seemed like she didn’t have another way to get the loan she would need to start her cafe. 

For five years, Reni borrowed money at high interest rates to build and run her cafe. Despite all her hard work, and having plenty of customers, the high interest rates made Reni feel like she was just going in circles. She kept paying the interest on her loans and never turned much of a profit. “There was a time when I had to pay back about 100,000 Rupiah [$7] a day in interest whether I made any money that day, or not. It felt like torture,” she says.

After struggling for years, Reni decided to close her cafe.

Fast forward to October 2018, when Reni joined an aptly-named CWS program. It’s called DREAM, which stands for Disaster Risk Reduction through Enhanced Adaptive Measures. As part of DREAM, our team helps women farmers and small business owners organize savings and loans groups so they can support each other. It’s a critical part of adapting to changes in rural farm life in Indonesia–changes that are primary brought about by climate change. Reni joined one of the savings groups, and she was soon able to apply for a loan to realize her dream of restarting her cafe.

She says, “I never knew getting a fair loan was possible. With our interest rates, I can make the loan payments, add to our income and save, too!” With her newfound sense of security, Reni says she feels ready and able to invest in the well-being and education of her family.