Human Interest Story: Womenpreneurs4Plastic - Indonesia

Nani (48 years old) has taken half a day off. Together with her little six-year-old daughter Eca, she sits in the passenger seat of our project car and shows us the places of her daily work. Every time we leave the car, we are met by an unbearable stench and hundreds of flies buzz around us.

Nani is an informal waste collectorpicker. For more than 10 years, together with her husband and her 6 children, she has been searching the landfill for recyclable waste, especially plastic, which she sells to so-called "waste collectors" - middlemen who buy the plastic and then process it for profit.

Together with her husband, Nani earns 2 million Indonesian Rupiah, the equivalent of about 133 Euros per month. However[1] , this is far less than the subsistence minimum of 4 30 euros/daymonth/person that applies in Central Sulawesi. Nani's family has only about a quarter of this amount available per day. She can only ensure the survival of her family because she has a small kitchen garden with tomatoes, casava, spinach and moringa.

She proudly tells us that her family - all of whom are involved - collects 40 bags of plastic waste in about 10 days. However, most of the time, she is frustrated that the middlemen pay unfair prices to the informal waste pickers and often the women get into debt through high usurious loans.

It was only a few months ago that she heard about the "Women Empowerment and Plastic Reduction" project that YEU, sponsored by Malteser International and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is implementing. Immediately, she knew she wanted to be part of it. She was elected Head of womenpreneurs group from Subvillage 3 by the women and thus represents the Womenpreneurs4Plastic women in this Ngatabaru village, Sigi, Central Sulawesi. She is proud to be able to actively campaign for the rights and better living conditions of women waste collectors.

She hopes that the "Womenpreneurs4Plastic" project will help her

  • Fair prices for the collected plastic through direct marketing of the collected plastic
  • Less interest on debt, through the creation of women's savings groups.
  • Knowledge of plastic sorting, marketing and recycling.
  • Support by providing shredding machines and recycling machines.

Nani is very confident that this will succeed. This is even more so because she was surprised to discover that in recent years no one had shown any interest in the welfare of the women waste pickers. With the project, however, both the village administration and the district environmental authority have now declared their willingness to actively support the interests of the informal waste pickers.


Cordula Wasser, Central Sulawesi, 6.6.2022

Poverty lines in Central Sulawesi is about 505.608 rupiahs.