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Kolowa Women's Mattress Making Enterprise
Two local assets
A group of women in Kolowa (many of them widows) identified an idea for an enterprise making kapok filled mattresses or kasur. The had two assets to build on:
With facilitation from NGO Sintesa and the Sintesa-supported village financial institution (Lembaga Ekonomi Desa, LED), 10 women experimented with an enterprise partnership group (KMUM: Kelompok Mitra Usaha Masyarakat).
Initial sales in the local area were slow, as bulk marketing of mattresses relied on local inter-island traders, but the initial burst of activity was regarded as a learning experience to evaluate production requirements and develop a marketing strategy to enter the inter-island trade.
The first mattresses were sold over a 6 month period and while the early enthusiasm and impetus to build the enterprise languished for a time, renewed leadership and support from the local LED gave the enterprise a new lease of life. A further 2 tonnes of kapok was acquired from a trader in the district capital (Raha), who also expressed interest in purchasing the finished products.