Small business enterprise empowers women in Karanganyar village, East Java, Indonesia

Women participate in training activities

Women participate in training activities, Karanganyar Village, Probolinggo, Indonesia © MFF Indonesia

Karanganyar village is located on the northern coastline of East Java, about 30km from Probolinggo city.  Most people who live in the village make their living as fishers or farmers but for most families these livelihood activities only partly meet their income needs. Further compounding this issue, coastal forest degradation, erosion, and salt-water intrusion are affecting the long-term sustainability of these livelihood activities upon which they rely. Families in the village live in poor conditions, and the daily activities of women are often dominated by time spent on domestic tasks and taking care of children.  As such women have limited time for income generating activities outside their traditional roles in the family household.

A local organization, the Nurul Jadid Islamic Institute (IAINJ), helped to address these issues by assisting 25 women to start a small business enterprise to diversify household income streams and contribute to empowering women.  Making use of readily available fisheries resources the enterprise focused on the production of grilled milkfish cake, fish crackers and making mangrove batik patterned cloth. With support from the MFF Small Grant Facility women in the village received training and technical support to begin their enterprise activities. The production of grilled milkfish has provided the most income of the three activities.  The women’s group earned USD 175 per month from selling the grilled milkfish. The additional income directly contributed to household incomes and enabled the women to support important household needs

In addition to these livelihood activities, the project addressed coastal erosion issues by engaging 20 local fisherman in the rehabilitation of coastal forests by planting 1,000 casuarina trees along the coast nearby the village. 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


  • Due to socio-cultural conditions the men in Karanganyar village were often viewed as solely responsible for fulfilling household income needs and women were responsible for domestic issues only.  This perception often meant women were not empowered to participate in household and community level decision making.     

  • Coastal erosion is a major threat to the environment and livelihoods in Karanganyar village.


  • 25 women involved in the small business enterprise

  •  20 male fishers involved in coastal forest rehabilitation

  • 2400 inhabitants in the wider Karanganyar village community will indirectly benefit from reduced coastal erosion

Building Blocks

Multi-stakeholder engagement

Engaging multiple stakeholders throughout project development and implementation was key to achieving success in this project. IAINJ is a partner that are well established in the project site and are a trusted religious institute with strong relationships in the target community. This means they can more effectively engage in sensitive issues such as gender integration and women’s empowerment. The local government was involved in the project from its earliest stages, and throughout project implementation and monitoring. This ensured that the project design was aligned with poverty alleviation programme at village level. The participation of communities was also critically important to ensure their input was prioritised and to generate a sense of ownership of project activities. 

Enabling factors

IAINJ as an education institution has good networking with local government, private sector actors, and other institutions. They have many a lot of experience in community development programs at village and district levels. IAINJ are dedicated to empowering communities in coastal areas to protect coastal ecosystems and resources.

Lessons learned

Involvement of local government throughout the process is critical for project success. Consultation with the village leadership prior to, and throughout, project implementation helped to ensure that the most appropriate beneficiaries were selected and that the confidence of the women’s group remained high throughout.  The involvement of local government at also ensured that local decision makers were aware the women’s group model and the small business activities and therefore could consider how to replicate them in other villages in Probolinggo.  

Selecting the right beneficiaries

The direct beneficiaries were selected from the most vulnerable households. Women whose husband were fishers were identified as the most important group considering they have access to fish for the products and lacked opportunities to contribute to household income.

Enabling factors

The selection of beneficiaries was based on a rapid household socio-economic analysis and also in consultation with the head of the village.  It was also important to have one on one, and group discussions, with women to assess their motivation and willingness to participate in the project activities.

Lessons learned

The involvement of head of village, the wider community, and with women directly, in the selection of direct beneficiaries helped to avoid any potential conflicts that might have eventuated because the project only targeted a small number of specific beneficiaries.  

Choosing the right livelihood activities

Rather than prescribing particular livelihood activities for the women’s group, consultations were held to receive input from women about activities that most suited their interests and also the availability of raw materials, potential market demand for products, and long term sustainability.  Based on the consultations and a rapid feasibility analysis it was decided that the most appropriate livelihood activities to develop in the community were producing grilled milkfish, fish crackers and ‘batik’ mangrove patterned cloth.

Enabling factors

Milkfish were still abundant and in good supply, thus raw material are available at any time. Also, the production of grilled milkfish and fish crackers as well as making batik does not require a lot of equipment and technology, thus with a little training the women were able to easily produce the products.

Lessons learned

Of the three products produced by the group the grilled milkfish has been the most profitable.  The unique recipe comes from the women in the village and not available anywhere else, thus filling a gap in the local market. The fish crackers and ‘batik’ cloth sold in less quantities as they are in competition with other similar products produced in the area, and were not in high demand. Therefore, it is important to assess the market viability of products produced by small community based enterprises.

How do the building blocks interact?

Ultimately, consensus among stakeholders, selecting the right beneficiaries, and developing products that were suited to the local context, combined to achieve the successful outcomes of the project.    

Engaging multiple stakeholders, from a well-established local institute to local government and a cross section of the community, ensured the activities were suited to local conditions and that consensus was reached at all stages of project development and implementation. The engagement of local government was particularly important to share experiences from the project so that decision makers could consider how to replicate the activities in other nearby coastal communities.  

The surveys and consultations with all parties concerned facilitated agreement on the selection of direct beneficiaries to participate in the project.  Whilst the surveys provided socio-economic data to consider when selecting beneficiaries, it was consultations with women in the village that were most valuable in the process. These consultations provided an opportunity for women in the village to express their own views and motivations for joining the women’s group enterprise.  

The selection of what products the women’s group enterprise would focus on was also critical.  Although, all available factors were considered at the time, such as availability of raw materials and existing capacity to produce outputs, it is now clear that more attention is needed on assessing the long term market viability of products produced by such enterprises. 

Grilled milkfish produced by the women's group

An Inspiring Story

Karanganyar village used to have beautiful coastal areas. Coastal erosion and seawater intrusion have severely affected both the environment and community livelihoods. Because of increasing soil salinity, crops began to yield less and fishermen had to go further offshore to catch enough fish. In poorer communities these environmental issues thus impact on community livelihoods which are heavily dependent on a healthy and resilient ecosystem.

Most of women in the village did not contribute income at the household level. Men in each household were responsible for fulfilling household income needs, and thus women did not feel empowered to participate in decision making within households and the wider community.  

With support from IAIJN and MFF a women’s group was formed in the village and small business enterprise was started.  After receiving training the women produced gilled milkfish and fish crackers for sale.   

Ms. Rumiyati, the women’s group leader, related how prior to working with the group she lacked confidence and rarely ventured out in public or attended community meetings.. She says she mostly stayed at home attending to household chores, occasionally going to the market to purchase groceries. After starting the small business enterprise with other women in the village she says she felt proud of herself, and was confident enough to become more engaged in community discussions and meetings.  Rumiyati has now begun actively promoting the products from the women’s group, spreading the word to nearby villages to secure more orders. In recognition of her leadership Rumiyati was invited to a national seminar to tell the story the success of the women’s group and share with others how similar ventures could be established in other coastal villages.   

Rumiyati and the women’s group are also helping the men of the village to maintain the Casuarina trees they have planted along the coast near the village.  Three years after the project was completed the trees are growing well and stretch almost 1km along the coastline.  When not at sea, fishermen from the village are now tethering their boats to the trees close to the village, giving them more time to catch fish to support their families.

Casuarina trees planted by the community to reduce the impacts of coastal erosion.

Casuarina trees planted by the community to reduce the impac ... , Kanranganyar Village, Probolinggo, Indonesia © MFF Indonesia

Project Facts



Karanganyar Village, Probolinggo district, East Java, Indonesia



2nd May 2016 to 31st Dec 2016

MFF Grant Amount

IDR 130,005,000

Co-financing Partner



Implementing Partner

Lembaga Penerbitan, Penelitian, dan Pengabdian pada Masyarakat/Research, Publishing Centre and Community Service (LPPPM) - Nurul Jadid Islamic Institute (IAINJ)

PO. BOX. 1, Karanganyar, Paiton, Probolinggo - 67291, East Java

Contact person: Syamsuri/Project Manager

Phone/mobile: +6285236197421

Email address:

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