Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Kartini Igirisa. I am the founder of UD Kartini Cakalang. I started my business in 2008, producing processed fish products such as a variety of sambal (chili sauce).

What was your background previously and how did you come to establishing your own business?

At that time, in 2010, I was going through family problems. I split from my husband and the household, so needed to start earning an income. I have been running my business as a single parent up until now. When I started, we only had one product which was abon cakalang (fish floss). Now there are approximately 7 products, including sambal tuna, sambal teri and various other sambal varieties.

So far, what sorts of challenges do you face in managing your business?

There are competitors who sell their products below the market rate which is worrying for me. We aim to ensure that the quality of our products is not compromised, which means that the price is is raised accordingly. Naturally, when new players enter the market, they automatically look for price competitiveness. All our processing is still done manually.

How do you fundraise?

Until now, I’ve relied on bank loans entirely as the interest rates are very low. However, I only borrow as much as I need.

Can you share any of your experiences as a women entrepreneur?

Firstly, the opportunities are definitely limited living outside of the city. Not having a spouse makes things a bit harder as a single parent, but that’s okay. It does not limit my career. I am still confident, and continue to keep trying because I have to make a living and provide for my children.

I employ 3 women who work on processing, who are all single parents. My vision is to empower women within my community who need an income. Looking for work these day is also difficult, as many employers requires a minimum, level of schooling. So for people who do not have an education, it’s hard to provide daily food for the family. By hiring these people we are helping them achieve financial stability. I am particularly passionate in helping them because I know how hard it is being a single parent.

Why is the issue of women’s empowerment important to you?

I think women should have their own financial freedom, and be able to produce something that can earn themselves an income. I try to promote positive thinking for my female friends who are hoping to open their own business.

In the long term, what do you hope for your business?

I hope that my products can reach the wider domestic Indonesian market, and be in shops all over the archipelago. The goal is to one day have my own factory in Manado.

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