After struggling to bring up their children by working at various labouring jobs, Zafia and her husband, Misa, took the plunge into seaweed cultivation thanks to an Oxfam small-business loan.
Because low-interest loans are hard to come by for poor people and money lenders charge extortionate rates, Oxfam supports many small-scale entrepreneurs across Indonesia's small islands. On Buton, we have helped to establish small businesses as diverse as sarong weaving, cookie making, food processing and, of course seaweed cultivation, which has proved to be so successful for Zafia.
Since receiving the loan, her family has been able to save money to create a vegetable garden and to build a kitchen to supplement both their food supply and income. "Our lives changed a lot after I received funding support. Before, it was very difficult for us to even buy food. We used to eat only once a day, a small amount. But now, we have three meals a day. I used to cook only porridge with a small amount of rice. If the children felt hungry, they would just go to sleep to escape the hunger. Now we have rice, corn, vegetables and fish in our meals. My children's health is much better."
Zafia and Misa are also active members of their Local Economic Institution and regularly share their knowledge with other budding business people.