Growing up in New Zealand, where sheep abound and dairy is a vital part of the economy, I am ashamed to say that I know very little about farming. All that, however, has begun to change in the past couple of weeks, as I have started my Kiva Fellowship with Mitra Usaha Kecil (MUK), based in Bali Indonesia. At MUK, most Kiva loans are taken out by groups of women who breed and raise pigs, and the organization has a seasoned vet on staff to provide advice for its clients.
Raising animals here is (in my limited knowledge) a very different and smaller scale enterprise than back home. Borrowers who take out “pig breeder” loans from MUK engage in one of two activities: 1) pig breeding – where the borrower will buy a female pig for breeding or 2) pig raising – where the borrower will buy one to several piglets, feed and fatten them until they are ~12kg, and then sell them to a local buyer to be used in the mouth-watering traditional Balinese dish, “Babi Guling”.
In my conversations with these women, I have interestingly learned that pig breeding/raising is just one of many sources of income for Balinese families, with the enterprise itself bringing in just a small fraction of their cost of living for most. A typical pig raiser earns ~150,000 rupiah a month (~USD $17), approximately 15% of her family’s cost of living. In my first couple of weeks here, it has been an eye opener to see microloans working to support these smaller side businesses, which incrementally add to a family’s income.
With family’s here drawing income from so many sources, I have been overwhelmingly inspired by the multi-enterprising men and women in West Bali…the young man who works as a housekeeper at a hotel hoping to take out a loan to jumpstart his shrimp business, the women seeking loans for pig breeding businesses who work in the rice paddy fields, and sell items for religious offerings on the side, and then the young mother of three I met last Friday who while caring for her children, raises piglets, and works on her patch of land growing coconuts, bananas, and cocoa.
As I learn more about Kiva borrowers, MUK, microfinance as well as farming, I am excited to share my thoughts with you. Any and all feedback is welcome.
Joanne Gan began her Kiva Fellowship at Mitra Usaha Kecil in Bali, Indonesia two weeks ago. She is immensely enjoying meeting borrowers and hearing their stories. Lend to Kiva borrowers!