ANGIN Women’s Spotlight series seeks to showcase a diverse array of inspiring women leaders and their stories and experiences in order to shed light on the unique experiences of women in business. We hope that both men and women can gain from these shared experiences, that these stories can inspire change, and that other young girls are motivated to become leaders as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Dwi Siti Sundari and I am the co-founder of D’Harvest, along with my husband. My business has been engaged in local snacks for about 3 years in the Tomohon area, in North Sulawesi. We utilize local crops such as goroho bananas that is available only in Sulawesi and develop them into banana chips that have a longer shelf life. We also produce snacks made of sweet potatoes, corn and beans for local souvenirs.
Do you have a plantation, too?
I do not, but there are an abundance of bananas in this region, so I had a thought: if we sell bananas as raw materials, it will have a low value and low shelf life, but if it’s a processed bananas, it has up to 6 months of shelf life. We are mostly housewives, so we work as a collective to process these bananas in our respective kitchen, then we will gather together to do the packaging process. We do this in our leisure time, after we are done taking care of our households.
What was your previous work, and what made you want to start this business?
Previously I worked full time at church while looking to hone my skills. I used to just be in the kitchen as a housewife, baking, and so on. We take orders for small events, as well as larger ones for Christmas or other special events. Then I started to sell my products, but with business development services from the government, I ventured to develop the products, apply for P-IRT (food production licensing), so that my products could be marketed to supermarkets and modern markets.
What kind of challenges did you encounter on your entrepreneurial journey?
We have so many requests (for the products). The ability to fulfill the demand is sometimes lacking because we do not have the proper technology and machinery. Up until now, we only used manual equipment. Someone offered us to supply our products in Maluku and Papua regions, but we were not able to take the chance as we lack labour and machinery inputs, even after our neighbors came and helped us.
There is high demand, but many of our orders cannot be fulfilled because our equipment remains manual. So, on average we sell 15 or 20 units. It is not a large sum, because we are limited in terms of production and marketing.
Have you tried to take a loan from the bank?
We’ve never before gotten funds from banks because there are many requirements and constraints, and so we have not thought about getting it from there. I don’t think I can afford to qualify; when there is a guarantee we have the money, but it is difficult to gain the necessary permission that sometimes makes it difficult for us.
Besides fundraising, what other needs does your company face?
More on the business development services, especially in technical skills. We want to grow bigger so that we can employ more people, and thus develop newer and bigger food ideas. However, we need knowledge and training — not just capital.
How is the issue of women’s empowerment important to you?
Currently, I listen to a lot of women, including my own employees. If they do not work and earn money, their household incomes are not enough — their husbands are away, working as drivers or manual laborers. The women have to find additional incomes for their children’s school fees. They cannot even afford their own needs if they do not have jobs. On the other hand, they do not qualify for most jobs like clerk jobs or storekeepers due to age restrictions.
It is because of what I see around me that I want to help. I do so by giving knowledge; in addition to cultivation, we provide craft lessons so that even if a woman is still living at home, she can still receive a little salary and be productive.