You know how sometimes you read that so many millions of people in poor areas have no light? And how their lives are so miserable because darkness disempowers them and thier children cannot study at night? Well, we are not going to talk about that sort of thing here. We are going to talk about how we can change these things. Right now.
Well, NDI started off a few years ago as a volunteer group, when all of us were in university. Back then, none of us knew much about tackling poverty. But we tried, persisted and learnt a lot along the way. We are now a registered non-profit in Singapore and have a systematic, clear method of helping communities without light.
What we do in Indonesia is that we empower rural women. In a nutshell, we train them to bring solar lamps (you can get the same solar lamps as one of the perks too!) to their communities and beyond. These solar lamps can last up to five years. Their communities now get light, and the women earn income for their families as well.
When they graduate from our program, they are known as ‘Women of Light’ (trust me, the name sounds better in Indonesian). We have trained 21 ‘Women of Light’ so far and they have sold over 2000 solar lamps and benefited over 30 communities.
And the thing that we feel adds the most value is that instead of just training them, we actually give each woman we trained a business-in-a-bag so that they can start their business and spread the light from Day One. You see, one of the biggest problems in these areas is that the women may have been trained to start a business, but they don’t have the money or means to actually start one after the training ends. So all the training goes to waste. Our business-in-a-bag overcomes this big problem.
The bag contains a few solar lamps, our training manual, the official program T-shirt, brochures and even name cards. We want them to be well-equipped and feel good about being part of the program at the same time. And that’s not all. We work closely with the rural women whom we trained, motivate them when things get difficult, monitor closely the impact of their work in the community and implement a system whereby over time, they can handle the entire program without us being around. We want them to eventually own the program.
Because we believe in the power of ordinary women, wives and mothers to make a big difference to their communities. In fact, a study by USAID showed that for every dollar a rural woman earns, 90 cents goes back to their family, compared to 40 cents for men.
We want to expand our reach and train even more rural women. In the next 2 years, we hope to train 40 rural women in Indonesia to be Women of Light. With a target of US$8,000, this works out to an investment of US$200 per woman trained.
Specifically, the money will be used for the following:
a) Training materials
b) 5 units of solar lamp (the Kiran lamp) as initial inventory
c) A Program T-Shirt that identifies the women as being official partners in our program
d) Name cards (so that the women can keep in touch with prospective rural customers)
e) Brochures (to pass to prospective customers or to be pasted at public meeting spaces such as shops, thus raising awareness of the importance of solar lamps)
f) A program bag with NDI logo to keep everything together
Note: (a) to (f) makes up our business-in-a-bag
g) A small allowance of US$50 for our fantastic trainers to cover basic costs such as meals, transport and accomodation (they live right in the village during the course of the training programme)
Now for this campaign, we have worked really hard to come up with a series of unique perks for you. For example, one of our volunteers has created a special Wall of Fame page on our website, just for you.
For a long time, we have been toying with the idea of creating an NDI Manifesto; you know, something that captures the essence of what we have gone through and convey it as a call for action to everyone out there who wants to make change happen. Well, we are proud to say that we have decided to release a limited edition version of our NDI Manifesto especially for this campaign. The Manifesto was created and designed by two of our co-founders, Fairoz Ahmad and Gloria Arlini.
And of course, you also get to choose from a variety of award-winning solar lamps!
Change vs Comfort: The NDI Manifesto © NDI
The Kiran © Stanford University The Kiran in ivory gift box © NDI
The Nova, with mobile phone-charging capabilities © Dlight Design
Our project has also won or shortlisted as a finalist in the following competitions: Young Social Entrepreneur 2013 Start-up@Singapore 2013, 2nd Prize
Grand Prize Winner & Audience Favourite
Finalist (Top 11 regional), 2013 Finalist (Top 9 global), 2012
We have also been covered in the following major platforms. Check them out here:
Do follow us on Facebook to get updates on our work and latest happenings. And do check out the website of Global Indonesian Voices, our campaign partner. It’s an online news platform connecting Indonesians to the world’, and they are really doing some good stuff.
Lastly, we would like to end by saying that your gift is one that will keep on giving. Because this is not about making a donation. This is about investing in the women. So you get to help bring light to communities that need them, create jobs for women and help them invest in their families in the long run.