Fuelled by the desire to improve the welfare of local farmers and low-income workers, a growing number of Muslim entrepreneurs is implementing ethical business practices and rebuilding local economies even as they maximise profits. Salaam Gateway spoke to three social enterprise founders at the recent Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) in Dubai.
INDONESIA: FACILITATING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Javara is one of Indonesia’s leading purveyors of artisanal food products. It empowers the country’s indigenous farmers by providing creative solutions for problems they face, while preserving and promoting the biodiversity of Indonesian food throughout the value chain.
The social enterprise buys agricultural products directly from local farmers and sells to mostly Western markets as well as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets in Indones
“We started with only 10 farmers and eight products. Now we have 700 organic and artisanal products. We work with 52,000 farmers across the archipelago and export to 23 countries on five continents,” Helianti Hilman, Javara Founder and Chief Executive, said at the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2018 in Dubai on Oct 31.
She said her company was set up in 2008 at the request of farmers to help them sustain the heritage of Indonesia’s biodiversity. It is also the first enterprise in the country to provide social security insurance for farmers, who normally don’t have such coverage.
“Our company focuses on not only building the brand but the people behind it. Most of our products come with the farmers’ faces or their hats or the story of how the food was produced,” said Hilman.
The biggest challenge was to educate the supply chain, the producers in particular. For that, Hilman created Javara Academy. The school helps young farmers, foragers, and fishers to become food entrepreneurs by providing them the skills, the network and the start-up capital.
“It takes a lot of work to bridge between the global market and all the small farmers we work with. We engage the farmers through entrepreneurship programmes to teach them how to respect their profession and to build their self-esteem,” the founder said.
“Once you inspire them and build their self-esteem, they will do the rest themselves.”
Photo: Helianti Hilman, founder of Indonesian social enterprise Javara, speaking at the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) 2018 on Oct 31, 2018 in Dubai, UAE. Photo supplied by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry