Micro Businesses Severely Battered by Pandemic and Natural Disasters

Small business owners in a number of regions have experienced a decline in income due to the pandemic. In West Sulawesi and South Kalimantan, their difficulty is compounded by the natural disasters.

A fast food stall located close to ACT's Humanitarian Main Post in Mamuju. Much of the furniture was damaged by the earthquake. (ACTNews / Eko Ramdani)

ACTNews, MAMUJU – Small stalls filled the roadsides along the road that connects Mamuju to Majene Regency, West Sulawesi. They are local residents who make a living by selling fresh produce such as pineapple, corn, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and durian when in season, as well as groceries.

This road is part of the Trans-Sulawesi route connecting Makassar to Manado. Nurdina, one of the owners of the stalls said that their main customers were the passers-by.  The proceeds from her business were enough to support her family. Each day, she made a gross income of IDR 500,000.

"Alhamdulillah, I could fulfill my family’s needs and send my children to school from my business. In fact, I made more money than my husband who works as a farmer,” explained Nurdina, who is married to a farmer who grows cocoa and corn, Sunday (1/31/2021).

However, her income started to drop a moment before the Covid-19 outbreak reached Indonesia. The number of passers-by decreased as the Large-Scale Social Restrictions were enacted. However, Nurdina continued selling even though there were only a few buyers.

It’s been almost a year since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in Indonesia. Nurdina’s income has fallen by over 50 percent as people are more reluctant to go outside. It’s difficult even to earn just IDR 100,000 a day. She now sells fewer types of merchandise because she can no longer afford to buy many varieties of fruits and vegetables.

"The pandemic is still ongoing, and the earthquake that happened in the middle of January just made everything worse,” said Nurdina.

Ainah (62), a small business owner from South Kalimantan also suffers from the impact of the pandemic and natural disasters. The mother of one child initially sold fried foods in a small stall that she rented. Unfortunately, after not being able to work for two weeks from an accident, her livelihood was shaken. She is no longer able to pay for the rent. Additionally, the pandemic also cut her income.

Ainah now sells her merchandise on consignment. Unluckily, the massive flood that hit South Kalimantan further compounded her difficulties. Her house was trapped by the flood, forcing her to once again stopped working for 14 days.

"When I was unable to work, I rely solely on my savings which aren’t much,” she said, Friday (2/12/2021).

Business capital needed by small enterprises

Global Wakaf-ACT takes a role in the post-disaster recovery process in West Sulawesi and South Kalimantan through various programs aiming to support MSMEs affected by disasters.

Global Wakaf targets thousands of beneficiaries who will receive business assistance funded by waqf to support the economic recoveries of the locals and to rebuild life after the disasters. Raka Ginanjaya Gumelar of the Global Wakaf team said that small and micro businesses were dealing with difficulties in disaster-hit areas. Their income plummeted due to the pandemic that has lasted for a year. Now, the earthquake and flood had left them with even more burdens that are too heavy for them to bear.

"Small business owners rely heavily on their business to support their families. At the moment, they are running out of capital due to the pandemic and the natural disasters,” explained Raka, Monday (2/15/2021). []