Ibu Marni, who lives on the outskirts of Jakarta in Indonesia, struggled for years to make ends meet and provide for herself and her two children. She had tried to start a few small businesses of her own, but they had all failed. Ibu Marni clearly had an entrepreneurial drive, but poverty had put obstacles in her way that kept her from reaching her potential.
Recognizing that Ibu Marni was a poor but budding entrepreneur, Grameen Foundation’s partner Ruma, a local social enterprise, recruited her to start her own small business. All that was required was a simple mobile phone.
Using a microloan to purchase a “business in a box” designed by Grameen Foundation and Ruma, Ibu Marni set up a small business selling mobile phone airtime. She also provided other mobile services, like surveys and access to job listings, to her friends and neighbors, who-like the majority of people in the developing world-now have inexpensive mobile phones of their own.
Through this simple and profitable business, Ibu Marni was able to earn enough income to support her family- and eventually enough to send her son to college.
But Ibu Marni’s drive did not stop there. She now works with Ruma as a field officer, identifying and recruiting poor women to start mobile phone-based microenterprises of their own. She is ambitious and fearless in her efforts to go wherever needed to find the poorest women and help connect them to their potential. Because she was once poor herself, she can easily identify with the other women she’s now trying to help.