#InnovMAMPU Talks: Yayasn Satu Karsa Karya

For the second in our series of #InnovMAMPU talks, we spoke with Yayasn Satu Karsa Karya(YSKK), one of MAMPU’s six Innovation Fund partners, who is working to enhance the livelihood of Indonesian women in Kupang, NTT. YSKK is working closely with women weavers in 5 villages of Kupang District, to build their capacity around product development and business management. As part of their program, YSKK has established Gerakan Tenunkoe, a cooperative that works with women from training to product development stage, eventually bringing these products to their relevant markets, and engages a wider creative community through their online presence.

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VIN: YSKK is working to create livelihood opportunities for women weavers across various villages in Kupang through a focus on product development and entrepreneurship. Could you briefly discuss how are you going about this in Kupang?

YSKK: We are working to create sustainable livelihoods for women weavers in villages of Kupang by creating a social enterprise in the form of a cooperative that will be owned and managed by the weavers, in every village of the project location. Meanwhile, we have also established sewing groups which are located in villages closest to the village of the weavers. The tailors collaborated with weavers and came up with various products that can be made from woven material. In order to improve the quality of weaving, business management and organization of the group, YSKK conducted training sessions for the weavers. Through training sessions, weavers have not only improved their skills but have also learnt new manufacturing processes of various products like bags, pouches, mobile phone casing, laptop casing, and necklaces.

Weavers and tailors formed a cooperative together,  which functions as a business center that  takes care of the weavers’ business conduct as well. This includes financial management, production management, marketing and is equipped with a digital marketing platform to promote the products outside Kupang and East Nusa Tenggara region through an e-commerce system, thus enhancing the access to a broader market.
VIN: Could you tell us a bit more about ‘Tenunkoe’? How  has it come to be known as a movement?

YSKK: Tenunkoe is not just a movement amongst weavers; Tenunkoe is a movement that gives the public an important role. Public participation is not only limited to purchasing and donation, but are also encouraged to share their ideas for new woven products. YSKK ensures that they host design events where people can share their ideas for plausible products so  that there is constant synergy between weavers, sewing communities and the public; enabling an assimilation of a social movement through a social enterprise.

 

VIN: You are working with weaving and sewing communities across 5 different villages in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. How did you go about engaging them? How do various craft communities across different villages view the Tenunkoe Movement?

YSKK: Craft communities in Kupang are facing challenges around business management, marketing and outreach of their products outside East Nusa Tenggara. Due to the low level of education, many of them don’t possess the skills and knowledge of leveraging their crafting activities as a sustainable source of income. Therefore, Tenunkoe as a movement  is perceived as a solution  to the craft community’s problems.

YSKK is working with weavers on a vast range of skills which varies  from improving product quality, financial management and marketing. As we progressed, we realized that within the limited time frame  it will be unrealistic to teach weavers sewing. Also our initial framework did not engage sewing communities.  As a result, we discovered that there are several existing women seamstresses groups near the weaver groups. They already had basic skills in sewing, so it was more viable to enhance their sewing capacity in order to meet the needs of Tenunkoe  and engage more members of the community.
VIN: Your work kicked off with a series of trainings and orientation activities with craft communities around product development / entrepreneurship that were delivered by experts. Could you talk about how you engaged the private sector for this, and for other vital parts of your program for example, business modelling, product design and marketing?

YSKK: Considering the inclusive nature of the Tenunkoe Movement that promotes collaboration across parties, engaging the private sector was very constructive for the movement’s development. Apart from women empowering activities, building a  business foundation is also crucial in order to ensure the movement’s sustainability. Therefore, we collaborated with several private sectors that already possess the expertise and experience in their respected areas to help build our foundation. We collaborated with the  House of Lawe, an enterprise that produces fashion accessories using traditional fabric. This  helped  in enhancing the product quality. We also collaborated with SERT-Jentara, a digital communication agency to help us build the ecommerce platform for our marketing channel as well as to promote Tenunkoe via online media. Several fashion designers were involved in the Tenunkoe movement to produce various designs that has Tenun and our fabric.  

 

VIN: YSKK recently hosted an event called ‘Tenunjam’ that looked into gathering design ideas for new woven products. Could you tell us a bit about the event and its outcomes? In what other ways are you inviting contributions to Tenunkoe’s product portfolio?   

YSKK: The main idea of #TenunJam is to gather several creative minds and come up with  products  using woven fabric. The objective is to gain design concepts which are desirable to the market therefore will increase the attractiveness of Tenunkoe products. Product design is one of the key problems faced by the members of the Tenunkoe Movement due to lack of references and knowledge. #TenunJam was meant to be an activation event to raise interest from the public and to participate in the movement by submitting design ideas for the members of Tenunkoe. Public participation in this context will support the sustainability of the movement by ensuring that the products created by Tenunkoe will be in line with the market’s preferences.

 

VIN:  What are some of the next steps for the Tenunkoe project? Are there any immediate challenges that you have identified as crucial in order to  move forward?

YSKK:  The next step for Tenunkoe Movement will focus on the following areas:

  1. Strengthening the cooperative institutionally:  The concept of a social enterprise and cooperative is still rather fresh to the weavers and the seamstresses of Tenunkoe, therefore it is essential to strengthen their skill and knowledge to understand and manage a cooperative.
  2. Strengthening the business conduct:  This includes strengthening cooperative’s management as well as  marketing activities  including promotions and partnerships.
  3.  Community development activities: This includes assistance to the weavers and seamstresses regarding household financial management, and create awareness about gender equality in their families.

 

VIN: Could you talk about some of your early notions of innovation, and your experience of the innovation fund workshop held in October 2014? How has your understanding of innovation changed over the past year?

YSKK: Before the innovation workshop, we believed that innovation is defined as an approach, in order to create something new, without any notions on the structure of innovation itself. The workshop provided a comprehensive  understanding on innovation, including the structure needed to carry it out.  

Our understanding of innovation has been changing gradually over the past year, especially at Tenunkoe. The innovation that we did in Kupang was based on the “theory of change”, and we created two prototypes for our programme.  We had the opportunity to explore new methods and broaden our way of thinking by collaborating with various parties.

 

VIN: To what extent, and in what way, will learnings from this Innovation Fund exercise inform YSKK’s approach to future projects?

YSKK:  The learnings allow us to  perceive our  future projects in a non- traditional development perspective and with  a broader perception that explores possibilities to work or collaborate with other parties, which are rarely seen in a development project. Another useful lesson is for program planning itself where it begins with research and allows  flexibility in the application process. This helps us  to obtain results in alignment with on ground conditions and program objectives. We learnt that even though our program is aimed at empowering the community, we don’t  get hung up on the  government or non -profit party corporations; we  expand to the business sector as well. We don’t limit ourselves to  usual development schemes by being open to new perspectives and insights, including user oriented schemes and methods that we learned over the course of the programme.

 

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