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A new mindset– Fatma’s story

Fatmawati lives in the Indramaya region of Indonesia, where rice fields alternate with gardens bursting with fruit. Yet despite the appearance of plenty, a lack of employment opportunities means most young people migrate in search of a better life. Fatmawati is determined to show them that there is an alternative.

When she was a little girl, Fatmawati, or Fatma to her friends, used to help her parents with their business selling snacks in schools. Years later, having succeeded in her dream of becoming a teacher, she still believes in the power of business to change lives. Now aged 31, Fatma combines teaching with trading – and is proving to young people that they can have a successful future without leaving their homeland.

The sweet taste of success

Fatma stood firm against pressure from her own family to look for work elsewhere. She says: “My father wanted me to go to Korea or Japan; the salary was big. But I didn’t want to. My principle is, if you can work in the country, stay here. After all, life abroad is not necessarily as comfortable as people imagine.”

After graduating from college in Cirebon, Fatma returned to Kedungwungu village to teach at her old school. In 2017, she started teaching herself how to make banana chips and experimenting with different flavours, such as chocolate, vanilla, caramel and even cheese. She discovered that they were tasty – and others agreed! Fatma’s business, FRK Snacks, was born.

In the first year, her business did exceptionally well. Fatma sold her healthy snacks in markets, grocery stores and schools. Local people got to know FRK banana chips, and orders kept increasing. 

“I’ve already exported abroad!”

Unfortunately, the business hit a major hurdle when a failed banana harvest pushed up the prices of the main ingredient. Refusing to be discouraged, Fatma began to develop macaroni snacks and flavoured crackers instead. 

Then in 2019, she took part in EYW entrepreneurship training. This boosted Fatma’s confidence and helped her see the potential for scaling up her business. She learned about developing business plans, marketing and financial accounting. But what she appreciates most is how the training linked her with a large network of customers and potential markets, as well as giving her access to loans and one-to-one business expertise. 

Although the pandemic led to a drop in sales, Fatma now markets her products through social media and even exports her macaroni and crackers to migrant worker friends in Asia. “I’ve already exported abroad – not bad!” she laughs. Turnover reaches five million rupiahs per month, and Fatma is proud to be able to pay her family members and neighbors for their help with production and packaging. 

Now Fatma is expecting a baby. She is thrilled at the prospect of being a Mum, but she still has big plans for FKR Snacks. Her vision is to have her own shop and help create employment for young people: “I want them to take care of my business, so they don’t have to work abroad,” she explains. 

Fatma’s message to young people

As a teacher, Fatma is in the perfect position to spread her entrepreneurial spirit. She tells her students: “To start a business, you don’t have to have a lot of capital; 100,000 rupiahs can be enough as long as you are willing and creative. The important thing is the intention to succeed. If you are determined, there is a way, and you must be optimistic. If you want to start a business, don’t make money your primary goal. The intention is to keep improving – the money will follow.”