A better future takes root in Indonesia

By forming a community social enterprise, the village of Menoreh received SmartWood status for its lumber, created 54 full and part time jobs and enhanced its notion of long term investment.

  • Success: Wana Lestari Menoreh, Social Enterprise
  • Industry: Environment
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Key fact: 1000% increase of tree seed sowing

Menoreh, a small village in Indonesia, has been logging over 17,000 hectares of forest since the 1980s.

In the past, individual villagers cut and sold trees on their own. They often found themselves at the mercy of middlemen who offered low prices for their lumber. Since they were working alone and earning small returns, the villagers had no incentive to reinvest in planting new trees. This meant that the number of trees kept decreasing, imperilling their future livelihoods and the environment.   

The Wana Lestari Menoreh Cooperative

In 2007, the villagers formed the Wana Lestari Menoreh (WLM) cooperative. By working together, they would be in a stronger position to negotiate better prices for their lumber and thus generate better incomes. They could also manage their forest more sustainably and invest in re-planting initiatives. Today, WLM plant 10 seedlings for every tree that is cut down. This has allowed them to receive SmartWood status, an internationally-recognised certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, which has enabled them to raise their prices by 30-40%.

Another success has been the development of an inventory system. Their largest annual purchase order comes from Europe, but it always occurs during the rainy season when logging is not carried out. This made the purchase order difficult to meet in the past. Since forming the cooperative, WLM has put an inventory system in place meaning that they can now track and keep stock ready for upcoming purchases. Currently the cooperative supports 14 full-time workers and an additional 40 part-timers.

Furthering this accomplishment, WLM applied and was successful in joining the British Council’s social enterprise programme. The programme is run in partnership with the Arthur Guinness Fund (AGF) and has provided training to over 205 Indonesian community social enterprises like WLM. It has also channelled £127,000 in funding to 17 of these social enterprises through a business plan competition, funded by AGF.

In addition to securing funding, WLM received mentoring and marketing support to help it raise awareness, improve incomes and scale up their beneficial environmental and social impact.

WLM has successfully reoriented the community’s base firmly around its trees. Parents plant shoots when their children are born, nursing them as investments that they may later sell to pay tuition fees or other child-rearing expenses.

Wana Lestari Menoreh started as a means to boost the local economy. What they ended up doing was changing the community's whole concept of savings and imparting a commitment to sustainability for the future.

Click on the video above to see how WLM went from a small concept to a community changing social enterprise.