Learning From the Tenacity of a Weaver

Marselina Heri, who is usually called Mama She, had to drop out of school when she was in junior high school. Her father passed away, and as the eldest of 6 children, Mama She had to help her mother to support the family. But this situation did not make Mama She feels discouraged. Armed with the weaving skill that she learned from her grandmother; Mama She began to look for ways to make money from this skill.

This woman who was born in 1978 brought her family to the city of Kupang. She also worked as a weaver in her brother's company. After working 4 years, Mama She managed to raise enough capital to open her own business at home, assisted by her mother. Mama She's income from this business  supported her family and sent her younger siblings to school.

On March 2002 Mama She married Edson Fredik Baoimau. After getting married, she continued to run her business. "If my husband can make money, then I also have to keep trying to have my own money," she said. Learning from her mother's experience, Mama She believes that women don't always have to depend on their husbands, they need to try to be independent.

Mama She's husband is the eldest in the family, and has the responsibility of leading the family. They were also asked to return to their husband's village in Oesena Village. After several years living in Oesena, Edson Baoimau was elected as Village Head and is still carrying out this task until now in his 2nd term.

Mama She's skill in weaving continues to improve, she even had the opportunity to take part in natural dyeing training in Bogor, as part of a collaborative program between the Association of Small Business Women's Assistance (ASPPUK) and the Alfa Omega Foundation (YAO). Mama She then formed a weaving group which was named Ai Nan Fen which means "Women Moving Forward".

As the wife of the village head, Mama She is trusted to be the head of the Oesena Village Women Group Mobilization Team. She used this opportunity to further introduce the ikat weaving business to the community, especially the use of natural dyes for weaving threads. Many breakthroughs have been made and even an annual ikat exhibition is scheduled to be held which was initially only held at the village level in Oesena, but has now progressed to the sub-district level to the Kupang district. This has an impact on the enthusiasm of the residents in general and especially the members of Ai Nan Fen to produce weaving in large quantities. When production increased, Mama She and her group were faced with the problem of how to market their woven products and how to run a good business. Ai Nan Fen had not used good record keeping, and did not know how to price their products yet.

Pondok Pergerakan, organized training on Entrepreneurship and Access to Financial Institutions for rural communities, women, youth and people with disabilities in Oesana village in 2021. This training was part of the Employment and Livelihood project, funded by the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN MPTF). Ai Nan Fen was one of the groups participating in the training. “We have learned many valuable lessons about how we must manage our business well so that our weaving business can progress and become a source of economic support for our family. We can also know how to calculate a profitable selling price because there is already a calculation of the cost of raw materials, our wages as labor, equipment costs and even electricity and water costs are also included in it," explained Mama She. In this training, they were also introduced to online marketing strategies. The impact was immediately felt when the next morning they received a visit from a guest who saw their post on Facebook and 4 pieces of woven cloth (kain tenun) were sold at a price of Rp1,000,000 each.

After the training, Mama She also invited her friends to start revising the group's organizational and financial management by keeping financial records as well as recording incoming and outgoing stock of goods. Mama She hopes that in the future they will be able to open a weaving gallery “M She” in the center of Kupang City so that they can expand their market to existing ikat weaving enthusiasts from all walks of life.