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.