Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

West Papua: A Grassroots Perspective on Micro-enterprise Development and Civic Participation

Drug store in Indonesia. (jogales/Flickr)

Drug store in Indonesia. (jogales/Flickr)

Relationship of Micro-enterprise Development to Civic Participation in the Current Socio-Political Situation.

An example can be drawn from the program participants to illustrate the link between these issues. Nico Wanggai was a part of a pro-independence group of Papuan intellectuals who held a non-violent demonstration with the raising of the West Papuan flag in December 1988. The police broke up this demonstration, arresting and detaining the protesters. Thirty-seven of the protesters, including priests, public servants and university lecturers were charged with subversion. Nico Wanggai was sent to jail from 1988 to 1996. Whilst in jail he learnt how to make handicrafts such as bags and wallets from tree-bark. On coming out of jail, he was dismissed as a public servant and was thus unemployed, so he used these skills to start a business. However, almost 2 years ago Nico suffered a stroke that has left him incapacitated, so now his wife and son have learnt his skills and are continuing the business. They did not receive any financial support until becoming participants of the Trickle Up Program (TUP). The TUP grant has enabled them to buy more materials to expand their business and use part of their profits to cover transport costs to travel to other regions in Papua to sell their handicrafts.

West Papua receives the highest amount per capita in development subsidies in Indonesia. However, this has primarily resulted in high expectations and dependency on the part of Papuans especially in urban regions. One example is the recent government "crash program" that was designed to assist with community development programs. During the period when these funds were being disbursed to the community there were queues of Papuans waiting for this new "hand out." Despite a high failure rate of similar programs in the past, no training or support was offered to the recipients of these funds. Whilst there was an enthusiasm on the part of some, others were suspicious and said the program was yet another means of the Indonesia government "buying the Papuans." Such programs have also received much criticism from local NGOs because not only have they created a system of dependency or raised suspicion amongst the community in regards to development programs, it has also led to the demoralization of the community because of the high failure rate.

One of the Project Partners that works with the Trickle Up Program - YPPWI (Yayasan Pengembangan Prakarsa Wirausaha di Irian Jaya) has been attempting to do micro-enterprise development in West Papua with the Papuan community for the past four years, by setting up a number of community banks. According to the Director, however, their attempts have been largely unsuccessful. He attributes the high failure rate to the challenges resulting from past government community development programs and to the fact that they have been providing the target communities with credit, not a grant as with Trickle Up. Since using the Trickle Up model, that is the provision of a conditional grant and guided support and training, they have experienced a far greater success rate. He has drawn the conclusion that the Papuan community is not ready to receive credit as the first step towards business development. The Trickle Up grant provides the local NGOs with an opportunity to assist the community in learning to manage funds, develop their confidence and create self-reliance.

An example can be drawn from one of the Trickle Up grant recipients from YPPWI - Seli Diwara. Seli has been selling vegetables in the Abepura market in Jayapura for years. After receiving the TUP business grant and business training she was provided with opportunity to learn to manage her business/finances. After this she was able to have enough money to make savings. Whilst BPR (Bank Pekreditan Rakyat) community bank) has been working in this market for the past three years, Seli never felt confident in becoming a client. However, since joining Trickle Up she has opened a bank account and made enough savings to take out a loan equivalent to $1,500 (one and a half thousand dollars) that she used to connect electricity and water to her house and start a pig-raising business. Seli has now become a role model to the other women in the market to learn to make savings.