Needle and Thread


by Rebecca Wolfe, Entrepreneur Story Writing Intern

The whirr of a sewing machine fills the little room, the gentle noise softening the edges of the day. Aat Atikah sits at her table, using both hands to guide a strip of fabric beneath the needle as it bobs. She settles into the familiar, soothing rhythm of sewing. She blinks, her eyes keeping up with flash of thread through a pattern of flowers. This is going to be a beautiful dress.

Aat Atikah, called Atik by her friends, family, and lenders, is a wife, mother, and designer in Bogor, Indonesia. Age 38, Atik has three children. The oldest, a son, is 21 years old and lives elsewhere in their island nation. The two younger daughters, ages 15 and 1, live at home with their mother and father. Since the birth of her first child, Atik has been a stay-at-home mother, leaving her eight-year job as a tailor in a garment factory upon confirmation of her pregnancy.

As a young woman, Atik says, “I had a lot of dreams that I wanted to achieve.” She had big plans to build a clothing empire. “I wanted to be a woman entrepreneur who has a large industrial garment factory,” she said. She wanted to “Provide jobs for the needy… Help my beloved family’s economic welfare.” When Atik became a mother, however, she put that dream on hold.

Spending her days in the role of what Atik terms a “normal housewife,” Atik has provided for the needs of her family physically, emotionally, and mentally. As her children grew older, Atik began to have some free time. With her entrepreneurial spirit firmly intact, she took up sewing for neighbors and relatives. As word of her excellent tailoring work spread, Atik began to receive requests from people she did not even know. Atik had, inadvertently, launched a small tailoring service. This business grew, and allowed her to provide a supplemental income to increase her family’s economic welfare.

Presently, Atik is able to accept and fill one order a day. She alters pants, makes shirts, and designs dresses. You name it, she sews it. With customers paying an average of $2 to $10, depending on the complexity of the order, Atik brings in $14 to $70 per week. As her husband is the family’s primary breadwinner, Atik is able to contribute to the family’s funds while also putting some money away for future investments. Currently, Atik says, “I have only one dream. I just want to be happy with my lovely family.” Familial happiness and entrepreneurship need not be mutually exclusive, though, and this is something she well knows.

With her skills and expertise lying in the realm of fashion, Atik is well prepared for a venture into clothing and textiles. The dreams of her youth are coming back to life, coming off hold. “I really want to have a bigger, industrial clothing production and employ many employees,” she said in her January 2016 application for a $50 loan. “But I know it cannot be achieved easily, cannot be instant. There must be a process that I go through to achieve success. Therefore, at this time, I would like to start from zero.” Her zero is what she calls her “little tailor shop,” the table in her home where she slides her seams beneath the whirring needle of the sewing machine. With her first loan, Atik purchased a stock of fabric, and that fabric turned into profit.


Atik is working, “slowly but surely,” toward her long term goal of a clothing empire. Six months after her first loan, she returned to Zidisha. “I am very happy I know this site and all of you,” she said. “This program has much helped my business grow up.” With her second loan, a larger sum of $200, Atik plans to buy a new sewing machine. “Yipiiee hehe,” she exclaimed in a discussion post. “I will buy a machine to make my production better. Hope all lenders… know and trust me and can help me again.”

As Atik has said, there is much hard work ahead of her. With help, however, from Zidisha lenders, she has come several steps closer to reaching her goals. Hard work and determination can take a person far, and with a little help from friends around the world, anything is possible.

If you would like to make something possible for an entrepreneur, head over to our loans page and contribute to the project of another self-starter like Atik.



A record number of new loans posted at Zidisha

Dear Zidisha members,

Soni Baidowi is a twenty-six-old social entrepreneur, driven by the dream of bringing world-class educational opportunities to his remote village in East Java, Indonesia.  
Thanks to you, the lack of local financing opportunities no longer prevent Soni from making his dream a reality.  Zidisha loans delivered over the internet are providing the capital he needs to grow his after-school tutoring center for disadvantaged teens.
We now have a record number of fundraising loans from remarkable entrepreneurs like Soni.  Many are due to expire for lack of as little as $20.  We need your help to extend the same opportunity to them.
Here’s how to help:  
  • Short on cash? Invite a friend to join – and watch your impact grow as their loans create new possibilities in the world’s most disadvantaged places.
It’s 2014.  For the first time in history, we have the technological tools to make geographic handicaps irrelevant.  Join our entrepreneurs in making this dream a reality now.
I’ll see you there.
Julia Kurnia

A remarkable social entrepreneur


Soni Baidowi is one of our newest members in Indonesia and the first in East Java.  Here is his story:

“My name is Soni Ahmad Baidowi, 26 years old. My family is moslem. I live in a village where moslem and non moslem live harmoniously, called Ranggeh village, regency Gondangwetan, sub-district Pasuruan. I spend my life to teach, building schools for elementary students, junior high scool, high school and expanding my printing business since i was 17 years old until now 26 years old.
I am very happy to see my students succeeding in the future with various knowledge for their advantage when they are looking for jobs. I wish i can create jobs for people around my house so my life can benefit others and so i can be known as a good people until i die…

I have established a Tutoring Institution “DEC” [Daily English Course] in 2009 to provide english teaching, arab, and math to all elementary, junior high, and high school students in the afternoon. DEC is a tutoring institution that runs every afternoon, the place that we use is a building owned by Iwan Hamidi (my brother) by paying Rp 150.000 every month. So DEC is still not yet own its building until now… Every year, the amount of DEC students are increasing. In 2009 we had 45 students, 2011 we had 91 students, 115 students in 2012. This year, “DEC” students totaled 135, and “DEC” has 7 teachers. Very student that studies at “DEC” pays monthly tuition as much as Rp 100.000 (10 dolar more or less)…
I hope that there will be kind lenders that are willing to give me help in a form of loans or grants that i will use to build DEC new decent classroom and to complete DEC facilities…

I always hope that I can create a good relationship with you. Hopefully with all that you entrust to me, Allah will repay to you with a lot more goodness… Me and the big family of DEC… would like to send our gratitude.”

Soni Baidowi raised a first loan of $100 to purchase furniture for his school on August 15, 2013. You may read more at his Zidisha Microfinance profile page.