Updated: May 4
by Katie Nicholson, Associate Country Leader, Indonesia
Expansion: An expanded, dilated, or enlarged portion or form of a thing. An increase in economic and industrial activity. If you received an “expansion pack” for Christmas, to a current game that you own, then you know how it increases the intrigue and possibilities.
Our team in Indonesia has been dreaming, praying and moving toward expansion for a handful of years now. We started more than ten years ago in one village in East Java, dehydrating mangoes, hoping to provide jobs for villagers while also giving fair prices to farmers for their oversupplies of fresh mangoes.
SunREI office staff (left to right): Andik, Delia, Rudi, Hari, Chuck and Katie
Once fruit processing in that village started becoming more consistent, we began receiving requests to expand onto the island of Sulawesi where bananas and coconuts exist in abundance. Ironically, this coincided with a few businesses who wanted to buy coconuts from us in various forms and our aim to match their current pricing with samples we created on Java, but there was no way to match Sulawesi pricing.
It’s time to expand! We already have great relationships developing up there and markets ready to absorb new products.
Meanwhile in the one village where we’ve been dehydrating mangoes, we have bumped up against some recurring issues that could be solved if we had a production and training facility closer to home. Enter the Boaz Factory (20 minutes from us, instead of three hours away).
This small-scale factory is almost finished. Having completed 20 household surveys in the village where the Boaz Factory is positioned during the month of June 2021, we now know that the residents are eager either to work in our new factory or to see their family members or friends find jobs working with us. It’s almost time to open up and expand the possibilities for jobs close to home here.
The Boaz Factory, Malang, East Java
Everything for foreigners living and working in Indonesia needs extra layers of permissions. One thing the June household surveys revealed is that these dear neighbors of ours are also eager to participate in various types of activities with us designed to build them up as people and village collaborators in after work hours as well.
To that end, we asked for and have been granted permission to operate in that village with 104 different types of activities now. At the risk of that sounding ridiculous, we knew that then we would not have to keep going back to ask for further permissions! Go big or go home, as they say.
As we look into 2022, we are filled with hope, faith and courage, praying for continued opportunities for expansion. An old prophet once said, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”
Chuck and Katie Nicholson (REI Country Leader) with REI Apprentices