Today in the Mission Yearbook

Fair trade co-op lifts Indonesians out of poverty


By confessing the story of a racist gift, a Cincinnati congregation takes the first step in dismantling structural racism

August 20, 2021

Mission co-worker Dr. Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta helped create the House of Authentic Sense. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

Economic partnerships open the door for cooperation between Christians and Muslims through the House of Authentic Sense (HAS), Indonesia’s only fair trade co-op. Like many countries, Indonesia needs development projects that are designed to empower society, especially women, minorities and disabled communities.   

HAS was created in 2015 with the goal of becoming a social entrepreneurial unit that enlists Indonesian villagers, both farmers and artists, to create, market and sell products that help communities overcome poverty and achieve social equality.

Mission co-worker Dr. Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta was instrumental in the creation of HAS and serves with PC(USA)’s Indonesian church partners at Duta Wacana Christian University (DWCU), where she connects the Christian academic community with economically challenged Muslim and Christian communities in the surrounding area. Economic empowerment is a door for cooperation between academics and villagers and between Christians and Muslims.

In connection with the university’s goal of empowerment, Adeney-Risakotta was asked to organize DWCU’s human resources to establish a Center for Studies of Development and Social Transformation (CSDST). In addition to teaching graduate students in the social entrepreneurship program, she organizes lecturers and helps students research and empower social entrepreneurship in the surrounding communities.

In 2018, the HAS Foundation and DWCU received a $46,000 grant from Presbyterian Women to strengthen the capacity and independence of the HAS Co-op and increase the production quality of HAS Co-op members. This led to the co-op being certified as a fair trade organization and acceptance as a member of Indonesia Fair Trade Forum.

Despite the pandemic, during 2020 the HAS Co-op successfully navigated the complex process of applying for certification as a fair trade organization. With the new designation, HAS Co-op members can market their products both in Indonesia and abroad as fair trade. Fair trade status certifies that the products were produced in ways that are fair to the workers, healthy, transparent and ecological. It also certifies that most of the profits go to the workers who produced them rather than to large international corporations.

While sheltering in place in the U.S. during the pandemic, Adeney-Risakotta brought co-op products to be evaluated for potential sale through PC(USA) churches and individuals.

Selling the Indonesian village handicrafts, food and drinks in the U.S. has the potential to strengthen product quality and help the villagers achieve a decent standard of living, continuing their journey to self-sufficiency and independence.

HAS offers handicrafts such as hand-painted batik patterns on wooden (teak) coffee mugs, teacups, herbal mugs and egg cups. Textiles include Mother Wahadah’s handmade batik and Mother Winarsih “Jumputan” fabrics (tie-dye). The co-op also sells chocolate with various flavors such as chili, orange, coffee and green tea, 80% dark chocolate bars and granola nuts from Wondis, a new co-op member.  Coffee- and tea-flavored chocolate bars are processed using Sister Mar’s Mocha Chocolate and Ki Suko’s green tea. Another new co-op member is a group of disabled teenagers who produce handcrafted batik tote-bags, pillowcases, table runners, scarfs, clothes and cosmetic bags.

Through the co-op, members can learn the necessary skills to manage their businesses and ensure quality control. Small- or medium-sized enterprises that create processed food products are taught how to get the necessary health permits to ensure their products are safe and ready to send to the marketplaces. All co-op products must be packaged with environmentally friendly materials instead of plastics. Members are encouraged to recycle; the co-op runs a recycling store where members can exchange recycled trash for basic food supplies. At the annual members meeting, members receive a bonus of up to 2.5% of the total value of the food supplies they have received by trading in their recycled trash. All members may add a “peace label” to their products in addition to the “fair trade” certification to indicate that Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths cooperate with one another in creating their products and are working together for economic justice and peace.

Kathy Melvin, Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Fair trade co-op in Indonesia

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Eva Slayton, Mission Specialist, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Adam Slutzky, Directory, Project Delivery, Strategic Planning & Execution, Board of Pensions

Let us pray

God of love, we give thanks for the vision of small groups of people all over the world who dream big dreams and work hard to realize them. Inspire us with their witness, that we too may join hands to make your world a safe and healthy place for all. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.