In the port town of Bitung in the east of Indonesia, lives 41-year old Salma Dunggio. Salma is married, has three children and has been working as a coconut parer since the day she completed school. She loves her job. Her shift starts at 6 a.m. and doesn’t finish until she has pared a staggering 1,400 coconuts. She prefers target-based work, as the quicker her nimble hands are done, the quicker she can be at home with her family.
Salma wants to see her children succeed and have good and meaningful lives. She works extremely hard to make these dreams a reality for them. Regardless of Salma’s wonderful work ethic, however, she can only work when the factory is open. Unfortunately this is not every day of the week. Strict certification processes in Jakarta increase operational costs, reduce profits and result in serious factory downtime. Add to that the fact that all Bitung’s export commodities, like coconut, need to ship via Java – further complicating the export system – and people with the wonderful potential Salma has, are left far behind.
These logistical challenges seem overwhelming to most, yet for astute companies it provides a wealth of prime business expansion opportunities. A remarkable multi-partner initiative instigated by Danish business conglomerate, Maersk, is turning these complexities into a win-win situation for all. The Bitung Enabling Trade Project is one of Maersk’s corporate social responsibility projects aimed at helping industries in Bitung and uplifting the people living there. By nurturing Bitung’s nascent economy as part of its CSR, Maersk is also increasing its own business opportunities.
In partnership with central and regional government, State-Owned Enterprises and local businesses, Maersk is currently enabling Bitung as an international and inter-island hub port. A crucial part of the plan is to increase the region’s distribution network with a new tramp service that will connect Bitung directly with Malaysia and internationally, thereby successfully bypassing the need to ship goods via Java. In order to accommodate the bigger vessels required, the port’s infrastructure will be improved and expanded. A new container yard has already been constructed and a huge berth extension is on the cards.
Maersk and its partners are also actively working towards getting rid of local barriers to trade. A Special Economic Zone has been constructed, ensuring convenience and efficiency whilst doing business. It also offers various incentives to traders, saving them time and money.
As Bitung and East Indonesia grows, the demand for export and shipping will increase, thereby benefitting companies like Maersk and the industries they support. When businesses grow, their employees benefit too. Through these initiatives people like Salma will be working full time thereby finally enabling them to realise the dreams they have for their children.