Women Driving Peace and Economic Development

by Ba Futuru / For the Future
Women Driving Peace and Economic Development

Over the last several months, as part of this project Ba Futuru has been supporting women entrepreneurs on the small remote island of Atauro by helping them to promote their local products and business through creating an inspirational film about their work. 

Ba Futuru has also helped local women on Atauro to develop their business ideas for the business plan competition, make progress on their action plans, and through the business competition, many women were able to get gain assets to improve their small businesses. 

On December 9th and 10th Ba Futuru held the National Women's Innovative Project Forum bringing together 46 women entrepreneurs from both Bobonaro and Atauro. This forum also included His Excellency SECoop, Sr. Elizario Ferreira, and representatives from AMETL, IADE, Casa Vida and SEII.

The forum was an important empowerment opportunity for the women involved to continue to grow their skills and share the innovation with one another.

Thanks again for your support!

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Women participate in a Focus Group Discussion
Women participate in a Focus Group Discussion

Supporting women’s economic development is one way that you can make a valuable impact in Post-COVID response. Women are disproportionately affected – as they are often more exposed to health and economic risks. During the State of Emergency, schools and social services suspended, and more people working from home leads to a higher risk of domestic violence. Furthermore, as many women are not involved in formal employment or businesses, they don’t receive the benefits or protection that their male counterparts are receiving.

 Now that Timor-Leste has no active cases of COVID-19, Ba Futuru staff are working hard to not only support women through project activities, but also ensure that no other needs are being unmet. Last month, our team traveled to Atauro and met with women participating in “Women Driving Peace and Economic Development”, to see in what other ways Ba Futuru can be helpful.

Currently, women are working on their action plans and preparing their business ideas for a business plan competition that will happen in October.

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A deaf woman presents at a training on Atauro.
A deaf woman presents at a training on Atauro.

The Women Driving Peace and Economic Development project has been effectively reducing women’s marginalization for almost three years.

 We are working with 68 women on Atauro Island, a remote and impoverished part of Timor-Leste. We have trained 16 groups of women – including women living with disabilities - providing them with knowledge and skills on gender based violence prevention and non-violent conflict resolution while at the same time working with them to improve their individual and group entrepreneurial skills. 

 Currently, staff are working one-on-one with women to develop action plans, that will eventually turn into income generating activities. A business competition is planned for later this year, where women will have the chance to win materials necessary for starting their business.

 As this year wraps up, we still need more support for the 3rd year of the project to bring more women these important skills and to fund their small business start ups. 

Ba Futuru consults women during an outreach event
Ba Futuru consults women during an outreach event
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group workshop
group workshop

The Women Driving Peace and Economic Development project has been effectively reducing women’s marginalization for almost two years.

We have recently started our work on Atauro Island, a remote and improvished part of Timor-Leste. We have trained two groups of women providing them knowledge and skills on gender based violence prevention and non-violent conflict resolution while at the same time working with them to improve their entrepreneurial skills.

Yet, we need more support for the 3rd year of the project to bring more women these important skills and to provide funds for their small business start ups.

Next week our globalgiving partner is doing an incentive fundriaing event on Tuesday. So if you still have funds to donate this year then we'd love for you to donate next Tuesday!

Please share this opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of women in one of the poorest countries in the world with friends.

Thank you so much!

women in the field
women in the field
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NGO Ba Futuru, in partnership with local partner Organizasaun Haburas Moris (OHM), has been implementing the three-year Women Driving Peace and Economic Development Project. The Project is working to enhance women’s ability to participate in the economy and mitigate conflict in their lives, thus advancing stabilization, peace, and recovery in Timor-Leste.

Following nearly two years of training for women’s groups in Maliana, Bobonaro Municipality, Ba Futuru held a business plan competition in order to help these small businesses gain the assets they need to become more successful. There were several winners that ultimately received the assets that they identified as necessary to improve their business.

We chose Apam group as the first-place winner, because they produce a value-added product and have a network built already through PARCIC. They have lots of potential to grow their market. The Buka Rasik group won second place, and are opening a coffee shop that will serve as a place for the community to spend time together. They have a good business model that serves local demand, does not rely on tourists as primary customers,  and is relatively profitable and creative. Third place was given to the Naroman group, with their proposal to start a small-scale chicken farm. Their business is unique and viable, especially as they are already building it. The Ba Futuru team went to their property and were impressed when we saw a structure for keeping chickens almost half built). The business is additionally very profitable, with a large demand from local Timorese. We decided to give the Sae Heu group additional funding post-competition, as they appealed for funds for a tractor. Their group is able to offer $500 to pay for the tractor, if Ba Futuru can cover the remaining costs. The Ba Futuru team has decided to go through with the purchase. This was a show of the groups motivation to increase the productivity of their business (growing onions and chili peppers) and we want to encourage that motivated spirit.

The remaining competitors received up to $200 in relevant assets listed in their business plans. These were business ideas that either weren’t very creative (Susar group was pitching opening a kiosk, when their town already has several), or lacked potential to grow/profit (Moris Ba Oin group was pitching a party supply rental idea, but there is actually decreasing demand for businesses like this). However, we wanted to invest some money into these groups to reward motivation, as they attended many trainings and do still possess potential to develop their business ideas further. Grasier de Lima will be receiving coolers and netting that will allow her to increase the quality and better preserve the vegetables she already sells. Moris Ba Oin group will be receiving 40 chairs, as these are always in demand for renting and will be relatively profitable. Susar group will be receiving basic kiosk items that always sell, so that they may profit faster and reinvest in more supplies for their kiosk in the future. Esmeralda Cristina will be receiving local chickens, which will be raised more free-range. This will be profitable but did not earn third place as the Naroman group did, because Naroman is building a coop and investing more into raising the chickens for more profit.

The second phase of the project began in July of 2019 on Atauro Island, where the Ba Futuru team will spend 18 months implementing similar trainings and activities as Bobonaro. We are looking for additional co-funding for the second half of the project, so please share this opportunity with others.

To successfully implement this project on the island, the Ba Futuru team had to thoroughly understand the current condition of women’s groups, cooperatives, and businesses on the island. The Ba Futuru team trekked around the island to meet with women’s leaders in all capacities and understand their needs, grievances, and hopes for the future.

After several weeks of this outreach to the 5 sucos of Atauro and focus group discussions in Vila, the Ba Futuru drama team engaged with dozens of residents during a dynamic theatre performance in the busy Saturday market in Beloi, the one-time individuals from all over the island are together in the same place. These engaging and comedic performances helped to spread key messages on Women’s Economic Empowerment, to grab the attention of passerbyers, and ultimately to identify women eager to be involved in future training.

The first Women’s Economic Empowerment and Conflict Resolution trainings began in August 2019 on Atauro, with 28 women from four different villages. Some of these women hiked as far as two hours each way to participate, with many already owning or participating in cooperatives or independent enterprises. The first week of the training focused on fostering creativity to envision new businesses, as well as improve current businesses with financial management, marketing, and management skills. The second week of the training focused on conflict mitigation and resolution skills, both within the family as well as within business cooperatives.

At the conclusion of the first training period, the women stood up and shared their biggest takeaways and lessons from the experience. Many began to cry as they gave their thanks to the Ba Futuru facilitators for providing an opportunity to learn new skills and create opportunities for themselves. Below are some quotes the women shared during the closing ceremony: 

“Before I was blind. I really didn’t know how to do anything, and now I have the skills we need to do things with our business that we couldn’t before.”

“I have never stood in front of people before like this, but now I feel confident in myself and the power of my business to do it.”

“We used to have so much conflict in my group, and now I know how we can solve it.”

“In my whole life we never got a training or knowledge like this. You didn’t just tell us what to do, you showed us how to do it.” 

“I used to rely on my husband to tell me what to do. Now I know I have that power myself.”

The women also shared suggestions for improving the training in the future. One woman, who runs a handicraft and basket weaving cooperative with 28 members in Bauruana, requested that the Ba Futuru come to her village directly, as it is a two hour hike without a road, and share this invaluable training with her members who could not physically be present. The team has listened to all of this feedback and integrated with our takeaways from the effort in Maliana, the Ba Futuru team was left in high spirits to take the remaining 16 months of the project by storm.

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Organization Information

Ba Futuru / For the Future

Location: Dili - East Timor
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Juliana Marcal
Dili , Dili East Timor

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