Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Parish's Microfinance Program Aids Poor

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Parish's Microfinance Program Aids Poor

Article excerpt

By UCA NEWS

JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- Witah was not at all business savvy when she first started selling vegetables on a south Jakarta street. The low prices she charged for her goods left her with little profit.

This changed after she joined a parish-run microfinancing program earlier this year. The Credit Union Microfinance Innovation program, established last September, offers training on how to run a business effectively.

The program, started by Jesuit Fr. Antonius Sumarwan, assistant priest at Our Lady of the Queen Church in south Jakarta, also offers both savings and loans to poor people who are looking to improve their businesses, but are unable to get credit from mainstream banks.

"The program helps me to manage my business better and increase my profits," said Witah, one of 110 members of the program. Eighty percent of members are Muslims, the rest are Catholics and Protestants.

She said the program gave her a 500,000 rupiah (US$49) loan, which she used to buy vegetables and then sell them using the business skills she has acquired. Now, the 62-year-old Muslim mother of eight said, "I sell vegetables in the mornings and afternoons. I can earn 300,000 rupiah a day and use the money to buy produce for the following day. I can now pay the rent, support my family and save the rest."

Witah shared her experience with 150 priests, nuns and laypeople at a June 20 meeting of parish-level social ministries of Jakarta archdiocese. …

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