What I love most about my work at the International Labour Organization’s Social Finance Programme is the influence we have on the lives of the small business owners we support.
But it’s not a one-way street. On my different field missions I have crossed paths with very inspiring entrepreneurs. Zaenal Mutakquiin is one of them. He runs a catering service in Bandung, on the island of Java, Indonesia.
Nearly 60 million firms in Indonesia are classified as micro and small enterprises (MSEs), which means they have fewer than 250 employees. They may be small but – as in many countries – they form the backbone of the economy, providing much needed jobs.
However, many small business-owners like Zanael face the challenge of finding both guidance and affordable finance to help them grow.
My role is to support business owners like him by facilitating their access to advice and financial services. He took part in the ILO’s Promise Impact Project, which aims to improve the performance of MSEs.
In collaboration with the Indonesian Financial Sector Authority and the Ministry of Finance, we work with rural banks, developments banks, and credit and savings cooperatives, who provide a variety of services to business-owners taking part in the project, including training to help clients improve their businesses, as well as loans, savings and investment products.
Some, like Zanael, are now saving more and have started to segregate money for business and personal household consumption. Others are using new ways to market their goods, such as e-commerce platforms. Being able to access both lending and effective non-financial services has also led to fewer defaults on loans.
For Zanael it has meant learning how to improve the running of his business, including planning and financial management. It’s also led him to branch out into a completely new area – providing shuttle services for elementary school students with his new fleet of mini-vans. This, in turn has created job opportunities in his community.
June 27 is Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day. It is a reminder that, with the right support, businesses like these can grow, provide decent jobs and continue to be an engine for sustainable development.