With its firm dedication to community engagement, Asia Pulp & Paper Sinar Mas gives their assistance to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) through CSR programmes such as the Desa Makmur Peduli Api (DMPA) Programme.
In the DMPA programme, APP helped SMEs in 386 villages access the broader market using e-commerce platforms, which in turn helped increase their income and economic resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic.
DMPA is based on the Integrated Forestry & Farming System (IFFS) concept, which aims to reduce pressure on forest and fire risk through economic empowerment of local communities. Through the DMPA programme, APP worked closely with the local rural communities in and around their concessions and mill operations and was able to promote sustainable agriculture, among other goals.
The communities benefited significantly from DMPA in various ways, with one outcome being long-term and sustainable livelihood improvements through the women empowerment programme launched in 2018 in collaboration with Martha Tilaar Group (MTG), a leading manufacturer of cosmetics and herbal medicine.
This programme promoted community engagement and sustainable agriculture as MTG trained women from DMPA communities on how to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs.
However, there were still challenges along the way. Many of the women felt reluctant to leave the traditional ‘housewife’ role to become a self-sufficient entrepreneur instead. To combat this, we selected a champion from each village to explain to them how they can support their families through utilising local potential.
Another challenge was that the second segment of beauty training required the women to be in Jakarta for four months. Hence, many participants were unwilling to leave their families for that amount of time. However, APP and MTG made sure to provide support for these women and reminded them that one of the biggest advantages of this training program is the increase in income, which would in turn help their family and their community.
In the face of these challenges, these women learned how to identify and process valuable local herbs during their herbal plant farming training. This enabled community-level entrepreneurship to provide sustainable alternative livelihoods to these women and their families.
The training provided by MTG consisted of three segments, including helping women learn how to identify, preserve and utilise native herbs sustainably for processing as health foods, cosmetic ingredients, personal consumption, and for sale.
The training also included beauty training, in which these women honed their skills and techniques to apply makeup, so that they may eventually open their own beauty salon. Additionally, APP and MTG carefully selected and trained high school students who want to enrol in the scholarship program to become a spa therapist in MTG’s salon and spa network.
The women empowerment programme was supported by the Indonesia Global Compact Network as it aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) of No Poverty (1), Gender Equality (5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (8) and Partnerships for the Goals (17). To achieve these SDGs, APP and MTG held different training sessions across Indonesia, from entrepreneurship to herbal plant farming to beauty classes.
The initial goal was to empower 1,000 women from the DMPA communities in and around APP Sinar Mas’ operational areas and wood suppliers. However, APP and MTG managed to surpass this goal in its first year.
To this date, the women empowerment programme in collaboration with Martha Tilaar Group has helped over 1,600 women to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs. Additionally, 4 young women received scholarships to be formally trained as spa therapists with employment access to work in Martha Tilaar Group SPAs. Even after the training period was over, APP and MTG still continued to offer ongoing mentorship in selling products and market access.
As a responsible and sustainable business that subscribes to the Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) principles, APP will continue to support women, both among its employees as well as those in the local communities in and around APP’s concessions.