Profiles of Community Savings Grantées – Mrs. Sudarmi

February 24, 2008

Erica Karapandi & Akbaroedin Arif

Name: Mrs. Sudarmi (37 years old)
Occupation: Traveling bakso (meatball) seller
Association: RT 04 RW 03

Selling bakso ojek (baked meatballs) may not provide a very large income, yet Mrs. Sudarmi chooses to sell bakso ojek in order to help her husband provide for her family’s basic necessities. They are both citizens of RT 04 and have also become part of the committee in the local community savings group, though they joined after they had already begun selling bakso ojek. Because they want to have more children, they anticipate that their family costs will continue to increase. It is important that they have the community savings to provide extra capital when necessary.

This mother of three children is so shy that she must be asked questions through her husband, yet she will do any kind of work for the sake of her family’s well being. “Although I am no longer a single woman, I am embarrassed to take my husband’s money when my cooking can make money for us too,” she says. It is this conviction and not financial need that inspired Mrs. Sudarmi to begine to sell bakso ojek. Schools close to Mrs. Sudarmi’s home are good for business. “Not many women would want to do this work, as it is difficult to do alone. But it is also an interesting business.” Mrs. Sudarmi’s husband used to work alone, but now she helps him to sell more. Now every morning Mrs. Sudarmi goes to sell bakso ojek by the elementary school near her house while her husband sells at other elementary schools in the area. And when they have leftover meatballs after selling at the schools, Mrs. Sudarmi’s husband will sell more bakso ojek around the neighborhood with his bike. The base materials for bakso ojek are only wheat flour and starch, but when mixed with spices Mrs. Sudarmi cooks the meatballs with a trademark flavor that is more delicious than other bakso sellers.

Every evening Mrs. Sudarmi begins to prepare spices and materials for the next day’s meatballs. In one day she makes 4 or 4.5 kilograms of these meatballs. This fills two large pans of bakso ojek to sell the following day. If one pan sells out, it can yield Rp 15.000. The daily average for Mrs. Sudarmi to get from the bakso ojek business is about Rp 30.000 if she sells out both pans. “Yes I am called a business woman, and while my livings costs are not covered by my business alone, enough of our costs are met that my business is important to us,” she says. Mrs. Sudarmi is also an active member of the community savings group RT 04. She has in fact already taken out a small loan of 100.000 rupiah herself, and wants to follow this loan with another larger loan. But because many people were taking out loans when Mrs. Sudarmi applied, she split the amount and took a smaller loan. The additional capital, though a smaller amount, is enough to already help her bakso ojek business. The first installment of her loan, 100.000 rupiah, has already gone to buying materials to make enough bakso ojek for three days. When selling out all of her bakso ojek this husband-wife team can, with luck, bring in as much as 30.000 rupiah a day. Their loan is already enough to help to give extra money to this family, who once before took a loan and had to pay 10.000 rupiah to buy credit. With community savings groups, members are freed from the stranglehold of interest collectors, which is very important for low-income families like that of Mrs. Sudarmi.

Mrs. Sudarmi and her husband (Her husband is in the photo.) have many hopes which represent the large hopes of the entire community savings committee. They hope that the program will become a permanent asset in neighborhood RT. The program has many benefits that help citizens who need extra capital for their small businesses. The program is not for business people who can make difficult repayments, but for many members of the community whom Mrs. Sudarmi hopes will become more interested in the program.