HIV survivor benefits from entrepreneurship training in Papua

Jhon Matius, 52 years old, tested positive for HIV after suffering from illness and undergone a series of complete blood tests in 2007. However, the transmigrant from Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi who now lives in Asei Kecil village, East Sentani district, Jayapura regency, Papua, did not consider this news as the end of his world.

With his wife and only son, Jhon dedicates himself to manage his pig farm business. According to Jhon, he and his family now have 20 adult pigs on their farm that they cared for painstakingly. John and his family always pay attention to the sanitary of the pig pen and the health of the livestock, as well as the quality of the feed given to the pigs on his farm.

Jhon said that his seriousness in managing livestock had attracted the attention of the Jayapura regency government. "My farm was appointed as a pilot [for other farms] and received micro-credit from a local bank," said Jhon.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jhon admitted that he could earn up to IDR 15 million per month from his pig farming business. His income decreased during the pandemic because he only had one marketing channel, namely through WhatsApp groups. In addition, Jhon said the pandemic also resulted in difficulty to secure animal feed supply.

Jhon realized that his self-taught farming experience was insufficient to survive the pandemic. As difficulties arose, ranging from marketing, securing feed, to financial accounting issues, Jhon was encouraged to participate in an entrepreneurship training organized by the ILO together with the Independent Foundation for People's Empowerment (KIPRa) in Jayapura.

The training of entrepreneurship is part of the Employment and Livelihood project organized by the ILO and three other United Nations (UN) agencies in Indonesia. This project, funded by the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN MPTF), seeks to reach and improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups so that they can rise up during and after the pandemic.

“Members of vulnerable groups often face more complex challenges when they start and develop businesses. We hope that this training can support them to survive with stronger competitiveness,” said Budi Maryono, ILO's entrepreneurship specialist in Jakarta.

Furthermore, the KIPRa Foundation and the ILO appreciate participants who have played a role in improving the quality of life of fellow members of vulnerable groups, as Jhon did. Not only focusing on his business, Jhon took part in activities to empower fellow people with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Three times a week, John actively provides guidance and counselling for PLWHA at the Noken Papua Foundation.

Papua is still one of the regions in Indonesia that is struggling to overcome the spread of HIV and AIDS. The Papua Provincial Health Office reports that 43,219 of the 3.3 million Papuan population are living with HIV/AIDS in 2020 and most do not yet have access to adequate medicines or health services.

During the training, Jhon and other participants continued to show their enthusiasm to understand all the material that could be applied to their business. “I gain new and important understandings about entrepreneurship, including product marketing, that I can implement in my livestock business. I also better understand the importance of separating business financial accounting from family finances,” said Jhon.

Jhon admitted that the knowledge shared by the ILO and the KIPRa Foundation in the training are very valuable and helped him manage his livestock business with better planning and order. Jhon also hopes that he will be able to overturn the losses during the pandemic and make his farm to be one of the examples of good farming practices in Papua.