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Empowering Indonesian Female Entrepreneurs in the Traditional Textile Sector

12 March 2024 UNIDO


In Indonesia, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) face notable environmental and social challenges, especially in promoting circular economy principles and driving forward gender equality initiatives. UNIDO helps address these challenges as part of the UN Joint Programme "Accelerating SDGs Investment in Indonesia" (ASSIST), which aims to bolster local entrepreneurship while empowering women and youth.

The traditional textile sector, deeply rooted in Indonesia's cultural heritage, faces numerous hurdles amidst rapid industrialization and commercialization, notably in competing against mass-produced textiles dominating the global market. This struggle is compounded by a dwindling number of artisans, with younger generations showing little interest in the labor-intensive methods of traditional weaving.

"Nowadays, fewer young girls are interested in learning how to produce weavings due to the lengthy production time, which can take 15 to 30 days to produce a piece of fabric depending on the types of motifs and yarns used," says Ms. Senirawati, owner of Seni Kreatif.


As a beneficiary of UNIDO's support under the ASSIST programme, Ms. Senirawati exemplifies the challenges and successes within this sector. Employing 500 women weavers in Lombok, Seni Kreatif underwent a transformative journey following UNIDO's intervention. Strategic solutions introduced by UNIDO aimed at enhancing the international competitiveness of traditional tenun production led to remarkable improvements in product design, quality, and market appeal.

Moreover, UNIDO guided Senirawati in exploring alternative eco-friendly fibers, addressing challenges in accessing raw materials sustainably. By incorporating locally sourced materials like recycled fabrics from plastic waste and water hyacinth into the weaving process, Seni Kreatif not only enhanced its environmental sustainability but also significantly reduced production time.


"This initiative paved the way for our business expansion under the MyNyale brand with support from UNIDO. Weaving with water hyacinth and plastic waste enabled us to produce 4 meters of fabric in just 2-3 days, a stark comparison to the 2-3 weeks needed for cotton weaving. This could substantially boost our production capacities in a shorter timeframe," noted Ms. Senirawati.

This efficiency translated into increased production capacities and incomes for the women weavers, thereby contributing to their economic empowerment. Seni Kreatif's success story underscores the potential for sustainable and community-centered development, serving as inspiration for female entrepreneurs in traditional sectors.

UNIDO's initiatives, like the ASSIST programme, continue to pave the way for inclusive and sustainable growth, aligning with broader goals of gender equality and environmental stewardship. Through tailored assistance programs and strategic interventions, UNIDO remains committed to fostering job creation, inclusivity, and sustainable socio-economic development in Indonesia and beyond.