The view from Indonesia

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By Peter Gray, Indonesia Ambassador

I’m Peter, an intern with Zidisha currently working in Indonesia. This month I made a trip to Surabaya, East Java, to visit our borrowers. Surabaya is a city of over 2.5 million people, but thankfully it’s much easier to navigate than Jakarta. While I was there I got to meet Rachmat Ismail (he goes by “Ismail”), who is one of Zidisha’s earliest clients in Surabaya. He found us independently through online research, and soon began recommending Zidisha to his friends after his own positive experience.

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view of the corridor where Ismail’s family lives

Ismail lives with his relatives in a traditional Indonesian semi-enclosed neighborhood (“kampung”) in the Petemon area of Surabaya. For the past year, Ismail has been working as a dental technician. For seven years before this, however, he worked as a photocopy machine technician, gaining valuable experience that allowed him to start a side business as a photocopy machine salesman and repairman. Ismail used Zidisha loans to support this business, and even named his shop after Zidisha!

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Ismail is shopping for a new location for his photocopy machine business – one that is closer to his home than the previous space. Although his shop is currently closed, he continues to service and sell photocopy machines on his own – sometimes even delivering machines to other cities in Java. Like many Indonesians, Ismail also helps with a family enterprise. He and his mother run a shop out of their house that supplies the neighborhood with snacks, water, toiletries, and other daily goods. Neighbors stroll by throughout the day, stopping at the door to make purchases. It’s much easier to visit a neighbor than to venture out of the kampung in search of a grocery store. The income from this business is supporting Ismail’s mother, and also helping Ismail save money in anticipation of reopening his photocopy machine shop.

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A neighbor stops by to shop during the evening. Ismail is helping her.

Visiting Ismail’s family was a great experience. While eating snacks generously provided by his mother, we watched Indonesian soap operas and talked about his business and experience with Zidisha. Ismail is very knowledgeable about Zidisha, and gives his time as a Volunteer Mentor to help other borrowers use the service and recruit responsible new borrowers. He is a wonderful resource for the borrowers around him, and a model Zidisha client.

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Ismail’s family shop inventory

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