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PerMaTa (Independent Leprosy Association) from Indonesia is one of the #coopyouth Replication Project winners! The core of the proposed cooperative is waste recycling - solving waste disposal problems and imparting environmental health education in Indonesia. The business model is based on the concept of the "Waste Banks" which is already practised in several parts of Indonesia, but not in their region.

 

We bring to you a brief conversation with the team.

 

Congratulations on being one of the winners of the ICA Youth Replication Project! Can you share how did you all come together as a team?

 

We are young people from the same background, we all have had leprosy.  We all want to be free from the restraints of stigma and discrimination that we have experienced in one way or the other. Because of leprosy, most of us have no education and no permanent job. Therefore, we want to help each other to improve our standard of living.

 

PerMaTa (Independent Leprosy Association) is a non-governmental/ community organization, a DPO (Disabled Persons’ Organisation), a place for us to develop ourselves. We all have grown through and because of this organisation. Within PerMata, we are involved in various projects to help other persons affected by leprosy who feel alone and scared. We meet regularly and always lookout for more members.  

 

How did you come to know about the ICA Youth Replication Project and tell us about your experience?

 

We were informed about this opportunity by our colleague Kerstin from Dare This Indonesia (DTI). She is a member of the ‘FundsforNGOs’ platform where calls for proposals worldwide are shared and the ICA replication project was posted. She was hooked immediately because PerMaTa has been talking about starting a cooperative for a long time but did not know how to begin, without funding, training, and support. We were enthusiastic once we heard from her and knew we had to try, and we had to win this! Our advisor and mentor Doddy Tumanduk already had experience with cooperatives and with his help, we were able to write the proposal. We worked hard for the video pitch, had to take shots repeatedly, but we were determined to make it as good as possible to show what we are capable of.

 

Were you expecting to win? 

We hoped to win, but of course, we did not know the competition and we feared that our low education might be a problem. Usually, we can obtain funding from development organisations or donors for leprosy. This was the first time we applied for a real global ‘business’ organisation and were not at all sure if we could win. But we knew we would not disappoint them; in case we were selected! So, we worked hard to make the video pitch, we spent the night learning our text by heart and had to overcome our shyness to speak in front of the camera. We were also supported by Doddy and Kerstin in putting together the proposal.

 

What is the concept of your project?

We see a lot of garbage in our neighbourhoods, which creates many problems. People just throw their garbage bags from their motorbikes onto the streets. We understood that waste can also be profitable if it is managed in the form of a waste bank. The waste bank can be a solution for the garbage problem and an opportunity for us to earn an income.  

 

What is your plan of action now?

We are very lucky to have been linked up with two mentors from Indonesia who will train us and help us understand how a cooperative works. In January, we will identify two collection points for the waste bank, in addition to the two locations that we already have. We will then start purchasing equipment needed for the operation of the waste bank. We will visit other waste banks to continue learning. We will coordinate with the local government regarding the waste bank to obtain the necessary permits and support. Then, we will disseminate information to the public about environmental cleanliness and the advantages of waste banks. By the end of January, we hope the waste bank to be running. And while doing this, we will also start the process of registering the cooperative. For this, we also will recruit more members!

 

Why did you choose the cooperative enterprise model and what were the challenges that you faced in your journey so far? 

For us, it seemed that cooperatives with the concept of community economic development, based on democratic procedures are good. We can help each other and improve our economy through cooperatives. Cooperatives teach us not only about business but also about saving, which is not very common here in Indonesia. We can also learn about business together through existing business group. Our funds can be safe because we can monitor the development of cooperatives together. The challenge we face right now is that we have no previous experience with cooperatives, so we need to learn a lot. Besides, some of us do not have jobs, so it is difficult to pay the basic savings. We will hopefully overcome this problem with the waste bank.