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Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
In early 2005, with support from local NGO Sintesa, a community enterprise partnership group (Kelompok Mita Usaha Masyarakat) of seaweed producers was established. The group of 55 members established a savings and loan component and set about negotiating the purchase of seaweed and sales agreements with local traders. The enterprise met with early success.
Members of the cooperative have access to a credit facility to purchase seaweed production equipment generated through their own savings and with funding support from their local community bank, KSU Syukur Jaya which provides low cost credit to member enterprises. An example was the provision of a low interest loan to build a small storage facility for dried seaweed and to make initial bulk purchases.
The inital success of the cooperative highlighted both the economic potential of the seaweed production in the area and the opportunities for cooperative marketing. But there remain a number of challenges to sustain and grow the enterprise. Bookwork and financial administration needs to be professionalised. Storage and seaweed processing techniques also need to be improved along with better marketing efficiencies. Nevertheless the achievements of the group have given local householders confidence in their ability to improve local livelihoods through ethical community enterprise.