Bina Usaha Rotan, strengthening the Dayak Woman - By Ms. Seting Setiawan

This is about an NGO initiative to increase community income through a socio-commercial enterprise by developing rattan craft products using raw rattan hand woven by the local farmers/weavers of Pepas Eheng Village in West Kutai District in East Borneo, Indonesia.

Rattan is planted by the Dayak Benuaq Tribe in Kedang Pahu Area in West Kutai District, and raw/wet rattan is sold to the weavers. The weavers produce traditional crafts like basket, a plaited mat, bag or bracelets out of them. They also have multipurpose uses for rattan like traditional ceremonies and for even daily use. Rattan is part of their life.

The villagers here are all farmers and most of them have rattan gardens of
their own. The men are good at cutting rattan, harvesting the best for the season. They need to climb trees to pick out the best good quality rattan for good quality craft. Rattan is a climber. The weaving itself is mainly done by the housewife, to provide supplementary income for her family; the mainstay of their livelihood being farming. She also teaches her kids how to do this, when they are back from school. The colors used by them are all natural pigmentations from leaves and roots of local plants. The natural color of rattan and the black color added give them an impressive look. Other colors like red, green and blue are still being tried out experimentally.

I am an NGO activist and I help them to organize the management and to look for a market for them. I have been working with this community for more than 5 years, and have helped them to launch this rattan craft project since the beginning of 2007. The contact in the Village is Ms. Rujun and she is very good in Bahasa Indonesia; I help her with English, emails and networking. Now we help the weavers to establish a community enterprise called "Bina Usaha Rotan" to produce, market the products and to train the community to develop new products and the improve quality. The demand for rattan products is increasing by the day and they have started to produce them per order. The profits earned are channeled back to improve the weaver income/welfare and to teach them to protect their areas from deforestation.

Out of the 60 families of this small hamlet, 40 housewives have been engaged
to contribute as weavers to this grass root level micro project. This means 40 families in the village make their lives more comfortable with their native skills and their own natural raw materials. Many more of them are starting to show keen interest in this activity. The enterprise belongs to the community. Now the products are being sold in the local markets because of their limited production capacities, but we hope to increase production, through engaging more and more community members and training them.

Farmer/weavers in the remaining 222 villages of West Kutai District produce rattan craft for household use. And I am working with 3 villages now. Now I am focusing on this pilot project in Pepas Eheng village and after training them to become self confident in managing it, I will continue with other villages. And so on and on, into other districts ..........

West Borneo province has a population of about 3 million. It will be a big job for me. But I am going to try. I will tell you about it later.

This page is created only to display the products of and to popularize the lot of the farmer/weavers of West Kutai district in East Borneo, Indonesia, who work silently, using their native skills, and their sweat and blood, in their effort to earn a meager but dignified living. There are many families involved in this socio-economic self-help activity, and they are very happy to go on with their humble lifestyle in this virgin pristine hinterland of Indonesia.

There is no attempt made through this page to seek grants, funds or donations whatsoever. I am scouting around for markets for these rattan products, mainly to encourage these weavers to step up their products, the main thrust of this campaign being to increase the community income resources and lifestyle of the weavers. If anyone reading this is interested in buying these handmade products, I can guarantee that they will get good value for their money, and they will only pay for what they really receive in value. There are no fakes here.

MS.Seting Setiawan