October 2, 2011

Technology training for women in Lombok | Travelling photographer

In the end of September, I spent time shooting for Kopernik, a nonprofit that brings brings affordable, innovative technology to the developing world. Kopernik has partnered up with an organization named PEKKA (Women Headed Household Empowerment). Kopernik was looking for a photographer to capture images from the women’s training event in West Lombok. The training covered sales methods and techniques to aid PEKKA members in selling various household products to customers in the area.

PEKKA members in Lombok have recently begun selling biomass stoves in their community as a means of making a small profit for themselves and their family and bringing valuable technology to their neighborhood. These stoves only require a tiny amount of gas to start and can use many materials for fuel including wood chips, coconut and corn husks. This PEKKA chapter’s most successful member managed to sell 68 stoves in the last 2 months.

Although PEKKA was established in 2000 for widows who lived in conflict areas in Aceh, a growing segment of Indonesian women are becoming heads of household. Indonesian marriage law only recognizes men as head of a household. Because of this inconsistency there is a real need for PEKKA programming, which has since spread to other parts of Indonesia to aid disenfranchised women heads of household.

PEKKA members were also introduced to new products including home water purification systems and solar LED household lights over the course of this training. The women can get all products on consignment. Once they sell a product, they earn a small commission and pay back the cost of the item to Kopernik. They have also developed a credit system for customers who can’t afford the products up front. The customers have to pay only a bit more (about RP 5000 more per month) but can still get the product they want.

The women practiced their sales techniques and got hands-on advice and tools for small-business accounting and goal setting.

I felt so honored to be able to make images of the women of PEKKA. Many of these women have struggled greatly for themselves and their family but have stayed motivated to make positive changes for themselves and their communities. The women stayed focused throughout the training, barely anyone glanced at cell phones and every one took advantage of freshly-made coffee throughout the long days. They also started each afternoon session with fun songs, dances and activities to keep everyone engaged.

The last day of training, I visited some of the villages where PEKKA members had sold biomass stoves. I got to make some photos of the families and their kitchens. (I’ll save that for another post.) At the end of the training, I felt sad about leaving these women, whom I had only just begun to know. I hope I get another chance to visit them.

To learn more about PEKKA, check here:

To learn more about Kopernik and their technology initiatives, look here:

Hire me for your own event; send an email to willow paule at gmail dot com.