About two years ago, Apoy made a mistake that is still benefiting him today. He misdialed a cell phone number and found himself talking to Sariyani. Even though the phone number was wrong, the conversation apparently felt right, because the couple decided to meet, began dating and eventually got married.
Today, Apoy and Sariyani are still connecting using the mobile phone, running a new business selling airtime and other services. They are clients of Ruma, a social enterprise that works with Grameen Foundation to develop mobile phone-based microfinanchise opportunities for Indonesia’s poor.
Before becoming Ruma clients, Apoy and Sariyani had an extremely difficult time. The couple lives with Apoy’s father and five siblings. Apoy lost his mother to bronchitis more than nine years ago, and he and his father also suffer from it today. Sariyani was a full-time housewife, while Apoy had odd jobs, including selling traditional shrimp chips (kerupuk) and picking up occasional carpentry jobs, which paid him up to 500,000 Indonesian rupiahs (about $55) each month.
But things have been improving six months after they started the microfranchise business. The couple runs the business from their home and is among Ruma’s highest-selling operators, earning a profit of up to 8,000 rupiahs (about 90 cents) each day. Their main customers are neighbors and friends, and Apoy also reaches out to the network he has developed through his other jobs.
Thanks to their enterprising use of innovative technology, the couple is confident they can afford to support their baby and build a brighter future for their family.