According to the World Bank 2017 report, out of 252 million population, more than 28 million Indonesians still live below the poverty line. Approximately 40% of the population remain vulnerable of falling into poverty, as their income hover marginally above the national poverty line.
Empirically, a high percentage of the poor are rural women. Many of them then work overseas mostly as household helps. Annually, many of them come back abused or dead. According to Migrant Care, between 2012-2017 there were 1,267 dead migrant workers who were reported and returned to Indonesia. The real number must be higher.
Toraja Melo aims to cut this poverty issue on the rural women by focusing on back-strap weavers who live across Indonesia. So that they can make money by staying home and keep the family together.
There has never been a research on the number of back-strap loom weavers in Indonesia. However, most of more than 300 ethnic groups who live in Indonesia can weave, especially in the poorest and most remote areas, where there are few alternative income opportunities. As mentioned in Toraja Melo’s book “Untannun Kameloan-Textiles of Toraja, Mamasa, Mamuju, Rongkong-Sulawesi, Indonesia”, hand-woven textile is part of the ceremonies and life rituals of the Indonesian ethnic groups. However, with the pressure of the modern world, this high art heritage is dying off.
To address these poverty and gender issues, Toraja Melo’s vision is a better life for the weavers and the preservation and rejuvenation of Indonesian hand-woven textile art and culture.
Toraja Melo started working in 2008 in Toraja. Toraja Melo was legalized as both a Foundation and a Limited Liability in 2010. Since then, we have been focusing our activities more on developing the weavers communities. Currently we work in Toraja & Mamasa in Sulawesi island and in Adonara & Lembata in Nusa Tenggara Timur with a community of around 1,000 women weavers. However, starting 2018, as the communities are already more stable as suppliers, Toraja Melo is now ready to focus to scale up the business side.
There are many definitions of Social Enterprise or Social Entrepreneur, but the definition that rings true for Toraja Melo is the one defined by the late Pamela Hartigan, the former Managing Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Co-Writer of the book “The Power of Unreasonable People – How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change The World”. Pamela essentially says that Social entrepreneur does not empower community, but Social Entrepreneur is merely facilitator and catalyst for social change to create agency and restore dignity.
Toraja Melo works in two areas, i.e. in the Community and in the Business.
In the community, Toraja Melo creates a sustainable livelihood of the weavers’ community by organizing the community (into weavers’ cooperative in partnership with PEKKA-The Association of Women Headed Households), teaching to make quality hand-woven products and by designing & marketing community based travel.
In Toraja, where we have been working the longest, a weavers’ cooperative has been established, many women have come back from Malaysia and can earn a living as a weaver with average income of Rp3-5 million/month. The pride among Torajanese to wear their traditional hand-woven textile has returned, creating a high local demand. Additionally, we have been doing #SoulfulTravel CBT (Community Based Travel), whereby the weavers and villagers earn additional income by renting out their homes and serve packaged tours, i.e. cooking traditional food, doing local dance and acting as local guides. All of these have created “agency” or power, especially economic power and dignity among the women weavers and the village people.
In the Business, Toraja Melo connects community products to the world market. We adhere to the values of Community – Quality – Compassion. We collaborate with community of weavers. We create quality products and strive to give quality service. We work together with compassion to alleviate poverty.
We design and make products, which follow 3 F’s: Functional, (made of hand-woven) Fiber and Fashionable.
In Marketing, Branding and Promoting our products, we continue to build market awareness to grow Conscious Consumers who appreciate good quality hand-crafted products. #SaveWeavingSaveLife
The overall impact is a growing Conscious Consumers movement, which in turn creates Sustainable Livelihood of the weavers and village people.
Meaning of Logo
Meaning of Logo
Inspired by one of Toraja’s traditional patterns to show that we work with a noble heart to preserve the richness of Indonesia’s heritage
To convey the message of hope and assurance to the society
To signify progress and will to sustain legacy across future generations
Dinny is an Ashoka Fellow. She has a long experience in corporate banking (Citibank) and as the owner of a Training Consultancy. Dinny is a former Secretary General of Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Anti Violence Against Women). Dinny is presently state-owned company PT Sarinah’s Independent Commissioner.
Nina Jusuf is a grandma of 5, has a Bachelor of Art degree in fashion design, managed women's home based business in California, USA with over 600 membership and an international expert in violence against women issues and sustaining activism.
AparnaChief Executive Officer
Aparna has > 14 years of experience in corporate and start-ups across Asia. She has worked in DHL, Alibaba, Angels of Impact. She advises start-ups along with channeling her passion for gender equality via TORAJAMELO.
Utami GilesCommercial Director
Utami has 15 years in senior fashion retail roles. Since 2011 she has been developing brand and marketing strategies for well known sustainable fashion & innovative brands. She was instrumental in turning around the fortunes of PINATEX.
Cath HalimMarketing Strategist
Cath is an expert in Finance and has worked with MNC. She has spent the last 4 years in marketing, growing lifestyle brands in new markets. As a social media influencer, she has been featured in several international publications such as Vogue.
Tri AnugrahDesign Strategist
Tri has a degree in Visual Communi-cation Design, and is an expert in multi-disciplinary design. She has experience in Trend Forecasting for over 13 years. Since 2011, she is one of the Associates of the Design Alliance Asia (tDAA) representing Indonesia.
Erna SyahruddinHead of Business Operations
Erna’s expertise lies in finance and accounting but her core capabilities sit in operations management. Erna’s operational expertise has allowed Torajamelo to operate smoothly and professionally to date.
gives extensive and in-depth advice in Marketing, Branding and Sales strategy.
Suzy is Executive Chairwoman of The Body Shop Indonesia.
Suzy is a climate presenter with Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project since 2011. She is the Chair of KEHATI – The Indonesia Biodiversity Foundation and is on the Board of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Her commitment for environment is implemented by hands-on involvement in various NGOs in her business and her daily life.
gives inputs and advice on community based Social Enterprise issues.
Sunit has experience in working with artisans based businesses/organizations in Thailand. Sunit is the founder of Change Fusion, a Bangkok based organization that aims to provide growth opportunities, services and assistance to social enterprises. Sunit is an Ashoka Fellow. Sunit also posts funny but spiritually deep poems on his Facebook page.
supports in various issues and provides Toraja Melo’s shop & office space in Kemang, Jakarta.
Sri worked as Senior Program Assistant in UNICEF in Jakarta. She brings with her an extensive experience in logistics and program coordination.
oversees the faithfulness in combining the social and business values and helps to open the market. Laina is Associate Director of Asia Center of Social Enterprise and Philantrophy and Senior Adjunct Lecturer at Strategy and Policy Department at NUS. Also co-founder of Angles of Impact; GETIT,Inc and Goodwill Ambassador of UnLtd Indonesia. She is a former Senior Advisor of Ashoka.
oversees the values of Torajamelo.
Karlina is the first women Indonesian astronomer. She is a founder of “The Voice of Concerned Mothers”, a moral movement, which started in 1998 against President Suharto’s regime. She holds a PhD in Philosophy and is currently a lecturer in Driyarkara School of Philosophy.