The Indonesians have a saying that money kept in a mother's sarong is tighter than a father's. Mothers will spend the money on the children and family whereas the Fathers tend to spend it on themselves. 
This series of  pictures was commissioned for Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) & Bank Indonesia's book titled "Leaders, Lenders & Breadearners" to document Micro-Financing in Indonesia.

Photo by Deanna Ng
Interviews by Iran Kortschak

Uni Purnawati, a field officer at Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (MBK), dispensing loans to groups of women in the village. MBK, specifically established to serve poor women, is a non-bank financial instituation based on the Grameen System.

The Sawangan Office of MBK also serves as the dormitory for Uni and another colleague. 

In Yogyakarta, Tri Siswanti, from BPR Bank Pasar Kulon Progo, a People's Credit Bank (BPR), deals with micro-financing at a different level. Instead of dealing with women's groups, she deals with MFIs and traders who take out individual loans of up to RP 30 million.     A significant number of these traders are women too but they have more established businesses and can offer collateral.

It was the fasting month of Ramadan. Tri, who had been visiting clients on her motorbike for hours, rides up into the mountains to see another client. 

Baitul Qirah Baturrahman (BQB) was established by Nora Faulina and her three friends in 1995. A Baitul Qiradh is a savings and loan cooperative that operates in accordance wih Islamic Syariah Law. The biggest difference between a conventional savings and loan cooperative and a Syariah-based cooperative is that they don't charge interest. Instead, they provide a working capital loans based on profit-sharing agreements. In Islamic law, this is called mudarabah. ​​​​​​​

The first BQB office was set up in the Baiturrahman Mosque with a capital of RP 16 million only. The small loan amounts that ranged from RP 200K to RP 1 million were catered to traders in the market, Pasar Atjeh right next to the Mosque. "Business shouldn't always be about ruthless competition. It should be about cooperation and mutual benefit." - Nora Faulina, Aceh

 Across in village of Sekotong Tengah in West Lombok, village-owned MFIs goes by another name called (BUMDes MFI).

It used to be run by men only until the BUMDes realised that 80% of its clients are women and having women as field officers would be a better way to reach out to them.​​​​​​​

Enggraini works at Lenek Daya village-owned MFI, in East Lombok, where her duties include the collection of loan repayments from her community. Before BUMDes, she was serving as a kadar, a volunteer community health work. Loans are made on the basis of trust. The borrower doesn't have to provide collateral or a guarantee but have to be a registered resident of the village and have good standing as a member of the community.

"I like living in the community I was born into. I have a highly respected position and help the people I grew up with. Honestly speaking, it's not about the money. I run a small stall from the front of my house, selling chicken feed and snacks and various other dry goods. I certainly make more money from the stall than I do from my salary at the BUMDes MFI and it's a lot less work. Still, I want to go on working at the BUMDes. I'm proud that we have a facility like this to serve the needs of the community here" -Enggraini , East Lombok

Hj Joos Siti Aisjah serves as the Chairwoman of Puskowanjati, the East Javanese Women's Cooperative Center, an umbrella group of 45 women's cooperative in the province. She became involved in charitable activities under the influence of an aunt who was deeply committed to political and social issues. 

"In the 1970's, my aunt was involved in an arisan of women. Arisan is a type of rotating savings and credit association. Each month, each woman would put in RP 2000 into a kitty. The collected funds were distributed to a different member of the group in turn. By 1975, instead of merely distributing the funds, the arisan began to save contributions too. The collected funds were used to make very small loans of perhaps only RP5000 to RP10000 to its members." ​​​​​​​

Hilmiati, 27, serves as the Chief Commissioner of the KBPR Ingin Jaya, a People's Credit Bank (BPR), which runs a cooperative on the edge of the city of Banda Aceh.​​​​​​​

"I need to convince them that they need to save and open a saving account. These days in the city, around 30% of high school students have saving accounts. If students live away from home, a saving account is a useful tool to accept remittances sent from family. If students need to make a deposit or withdrawal, our officers will come by motorbike to visit them at school." - Hilmiati, Aceh​​​​​​​

"Microfinance is still regarded as a peripheral subject by most academics in the field of economics. " -Djumilah Zain,           a professor in the Faculty of Economics at Brawi-jaya University in Malang, East Java. 

In 1993, she participated in a Grameen Dialogue Programme in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Following this, she played a pivotal role in the establishment of a Grameen Replication Programme throughout East Java. ​​​​​​​

"The Grameen system is based on weekly meetings and weekly repayment schedule. I wanted to find an area where people had some kind of regular income, even if it was small. None of the areas I surveyed were quite right and I'd almost given up. I was sitting by the side of the road, when I heard sounds in the distance, the sound of metal against metal. I'd stumbled across a village where a proportion of the population were ironsmiths and other small industries. I found the village that i was looking for. The name of the village was Tangkil, in Wlingi, Blitar" -Djumilah Zain, Malang, East Java​​​​​​​

A.A. Dewei Indrayati is the head of the largest branch office of the Regional Development Bank of Bali, BPD Bali. In Bali, the BPD takes on the supervisory responsibility for the village microfinance institutions owned by the customary Balinese villages (LPD). 

"In many ways, I am a very traditional Balinese woman. I don't see any contradictions between that and being a modern career woman." - A.A. Dewi Indrayati, Bali​​​​​​​

Aviliani (left), an Independent Commissioner at Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), commenting on economic issues on  a TV programme.

"At a personal level, I have learned from my own experience how access to funds can have a huge impact on the growth of individuals and their businesses. I did not come from a priviledged background. I always remember that I might not have been able to come this far without the help of others. I feel that I have a debt of gratitude that I have [ to repay." - Aviliani, Jakarta​​​​​​​

More than 90% of Bali's inhabitants are Hindu. Before her day begins, Ardini Yoni attends morning rituals together with her staff.

"In the rural areas, you can't be passive and wait for people to come to the bank. You have to go out and meet people, visit them in their homes and take an interest in their lives." - N.M. Ardini Yoni, Head of the PT. BPR Nusamba Tegallalang, a rural bank far from Bali's Urban Centres.​​​​​​​

"When I was married, I was quite happy being a housewife, thinking that I might operate a small business from home. But my husband pushed me to develop a career of my own, to gain professional experience. Now I'm often described as an economist. However i actually prefer to be described as an Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) advocate, a person who has great empathy towards deepening and facilitating MSME development."  - Ratna E. Amiaty , Head of Directorate of Credit , BPR and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises at Bank Indonesia.​​​​​​​

"One of the problems with ceramics production is that it's seasonal. You can only dry pots in the dry season. A lot of women don't have savings that they can draw upon at the beginning of the season. Even though it's an industry that uses basic materials, there are still initial costs involved, particularly for the purchase of sand and fuel. But with a loan of even a few hundred thousand rupiah, a woman can establish a business that will feed her family" -Marsiyati, ceramics producer who participates in a group loan in the province of Yogyakarta.​​​​​​​

"The tsunami completely destroyed my bakery business. I had spent years building it up from scratch."  -Nelly Nurila, founder and proprietor of Nusa Roti, a successful bakery business that produces snacks for the


In Nelly's home, marks of the tsunami from 5 years ago remains. Money has been channeled into rebuilding their business

In Yogyakarta, a lady makes Tempeh, a stable in the Indonesian diet made from fermented soya beans. She is part of a group who has taken a loan under the Grameen System. Due to the sheer size of Indonesia's population of more than 235 million and the huge number of more than 40 million MSEs, the lack of access to capital and financial services still remains a major constraint for many Indonesian households and enterprises. ​​​​​​​

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