In March 2020 the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared as a pandemic and spread across the globe. Many of our programs´ participants are from Indonesia – which already has taken its toll from the ongoing pandemic as well. Current figures for Indonesia are 21.745 infected people with the coronavirus (23 May 2020). The main hub for infections is Java due to its high and dense population, especially Jakarta which is the most populated city and the capital of Indonesia. Some areas of Indonesia are under strict lockdown measures by the government. The city of Tegal in east Java is in a heavy lockdown until 30 July 2020. Some islands already have tightened entry requirements or block any visitors. These islands suffer heavily as many of them rely on tourism which is nearly zero right now.
While some countries slowly open up and begin to enter the phase of normality e.g. Germany, many of our Indonesian microloan debtors still suffer from the lockdown measures and have distant hopes of a starting normalization. Around 57% of our microloan debtors are able to keep their businesses open and redeem their microloan. Even if the number of customers has shrunk recently most of them are able to meet their needs and provide enough support for themselves and their families. But the other 43 % microloan debtors are forced to shut down their businesses. The main reason is the lower number of customers which also suffer from the pandemic and therefore buy less. Most of them are still eager to redeem their loan and try to pay the full or at least half of the instalments. Mostly their family members or spouses are helping them out financially.
Some are creative during the pandemic and look for other ways of earning their income. Parmi used to sell chips but lost many customers due to the pandemic. While her business is ruined, she embraced her skills in tailoring and makes facial masks. Parmi makes her living by selling these self-made facial masks. Rohmatullah used so sell drinks and food but due to the pandemic she now washes and irons clothes from the same customers. Many Indonesians have so called Warungs – a common idyllic “street shop” mostly owned and run by a family. Nurul and Usman used to run their Warung but due to current laws and prohibitions they´re not allowed to run them anymore. Now they shifted the sales of their snacks to the front of their home.
Our microloan debtors are optimistic to open their businesses by the end of this month. This is not only needed to redeem their microloan but also to provide financial stability and send their children to school. We wish our microloan debtors are healthy and hope that they can successfully start their businesses soon.
Translation – Mustafa Pamuk