U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Initiatives Melanne Verveer visited a group of 18 women entrepreneurs in a poor Jakarta community. These women had started or expanded their businesses with U.S. guaranteed micro-financing loans. The women operate small businesses, ranging from a goat farm to a store that sells basic food items. Most are businesses that the women run from their homes.
“These women are great examples of how a small amount of financing can spark the entrepreneurial spirit and empower women,” explained Ambassador Verveer.
Ambassador Verveer visited the women entrepreneurs during a two-day visit to Jakarta. She also met with women businessmen and civil society activists. Support for women entrepreneurs is part of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in November 2010.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a four-year, $13 million loan portfolio guarantee with PT Bank Andara last year to stimulate more loans to small rural bank and non-bank financial institutions. These institutions, in turn, provide loans to Indonesian micro and small enterprises that serve the needs of the poor in Indonesia. USAID agreed to guarantee a loan portfolio of up to $6.5 million.
Bank Andara is loaning to microfinance institutions that they consider pro-poor. Such institutions are comprised of women and youth groups, farmers and disadvantage individuals. Bank Perkreditan Rakyat (BPR) is one such bank. The BPR has 3,704 women borrowers which represents 76% of their total customer base. The amount of the average loan to a woman is about 3 million IDR (est. $350 USD) usually to support small stores set up before their homes.
USAID anticipates that this program will provide positive examples to spur larger commercial banks to target microfinance and microenterprises and begin to lend to these potential clients.