Jakarta is an overcrowded city

"Go into town and reap hope"

he cooperative has more than a hundred members. Most of them are women, but there are some men too. Today, the day of our visit, the assembled members in the office are all women. Yeni greets us kindly: »Hello, my name is Yeni. Was it difficult to find us? ”Then she introduces us to the other members of the cooperative and explains everything about the cooperative. She also mentions Mita's shoe factory.

»Mita is a founding member of the cooperative. She is currently leading one of our groups. She is very familiar with the ups and downs that TWA has gone through. Business at her company was also in decline for a while, but it has recovered and is doing reasonably well. She owns a few shoe stores and has ten employees. If you'd like to get to know her, we can give her a call, ”explains Yeni.

Said and done. Less than half an hour later, the 54-year-old comes in. Mita makes a modest impression in her green Muslim robe. For a woman who is no longer young, she moved quickly. I already know from Yeni's explanations that she is from Medan in North Sumatra. When she speaks, you can tell by her accent, although it is already mixed with Jakarta's Betawi dialect.

At first, however, Mita speaks little. But after she allows us to interview her and take a few photos, we get to know her as friendly and open people. We chat a little and after Mita has had a little chat with her friends, she suggests going to one of her stores. The shop is called Anmell, an abbreviation for Anak Melayu [child of Malayas], and is only three kilometers from the cooperative.

"Shall we go?" She asked invitingly. She rides in the back of a motorcycle taxi and we follow her with our own motorcycles. About ten minutes later we arrive at the Anmell store. It is on 2nd Kamal Street. The banner above the entrance announces that not only are shoes made and sold here, but that there are also many types of leather to buy.

The shop is currently closed. Mita tries to open the padlock. It seems like she doesn't do that often anymore. Finally, the owner of the cookshop next door helps her. He skillfully opens the padlock and the roller door so that we can see the display cases. Mita invites us in. Your employees are still on vacation because of the recent Idul Fitri celebrations.

Most of the shoes are men's shoes made of cowhide. Mita and her husband rarely make women's shoes because they are more complicated and take longer to produce. You can also get a better price for men's shoes. They also sell plastic shoes and pre-made shoes that they source from other vendors. They chose it because not all customers want to buy expensive leather shoes. Some prefer to take the cheaper variants. Thanks to the expanded range, they can now sell more every day.

“The night before Idul Fitri, we kept our shop open until dawn. So many buyers came in that we made a big profit. Aside from public holidays, exhibitions are also good for business. For example, when we took part in an exhibition in the Allianz office, we sold seven pairs of shoes within a few hours, ”says Mita happily.

Paving the way together

Our next stop is the house and production facility of Mita and her husband. Your home is just a few minutes' walk from the store. The sun is still burning, but Mita doesn't seem to mind the heat. As we walk through the alleys, Mita is greeted by some neighbors. She and her family have lived in the area for a long time. They are also known here for their shoe factory.

When we enter the house, mountains of shoe models await us. The first floor has obviously been converted into a warehouse. On the first floor of the house is the production, where the employees are employed. Mita invites us to the living area on the second floor. But here, too, the shoeboxes pile up to the ceiling.

A mild wind blows through the window from outside, which is very pleasant. As we sit down, Mita asks her maid to bring us cold drinks. While we start talking, cold orange juice is served. Mita invites us to drink, and our thirsty throats immediately feel refreshed.

The juice reminds her of a story, by the way, because it comes from a company she used to work for. “My first job in Jakarta was as a saleswoman for ABC soy sauce. A friend of my husband's who worked there introduced us to his boss. But the boss chose me instead of my husband because he said I could work as a saleswoman for the marketing department. And so I sold the soy sauce to a lot of stores and even door to door, ”she recalls.

Before she found the job, Mita, who graduated from SMEA Negeri 1 [Business School] in Sindoro, was unemployed for a few months after arriving in Jakarta. Even though she had a degree, it was not easy to find a job. While Mita was working for ABC, her husband Abdul Jalil found a job at a construction company called CV Putra Deli, again with the help of friends. Jakarta International Airport was his first construction project.

When he was still unmarried, Jalil was already an entrepreneur. He opened a motorcycle workshop on Jamin Ginting Street in Medan. “In the end, he had to close it because the business wasn't doing well. At that time we decided to come to Jakarta to seek our fortune there, «says Mita.

Speaking of Jamin Ginting Strasse, there is a story that they will never forget. Because that was the street where they met each other. But before he got together with Mita, 59-year-old Jalil admits that he already had 42 girlfriends.

To get to know me, Mita borrowed a motorcycle from me. [...]. We decided to get married after just six months, "Jalil recalls."

“I was a playboy, but honestly, I never ruined my friends' lives. Mita wasn't one of my friends at the time. I'm not sure, but maybe that's why we fell in love. From the moment I first saw her, I was fascinated by her beauty. We met when I still had the motorcycle workshop on Jamin Ginting Strasse. There were many Batak Karo [ethnicities in North Sumatra] in the area, including my wife and her family. To get to know me, Mita borrowed a motorcycle from me and when it was my birthday she gave me a shirt. We decided to get married after just six months, ”Jalil recalls.

In 1980 the two moved to Jakarta to make their fortune there. They got there with nothing but two suitcases full of clothes. But they were well educated and skilled and experienced; that was their advantage. They both dreamed of becoming successful entrepreneurs and this dream drove them day after day.

For about six years, the young couple in Jakarta tried more badly than right to make ends meet. Then they decided to move back to Medan to run a shoe shop with Jalil's brother. Unfortunately, this business didn't last long either, because the brother died. As the head of the family, Jalil decided to go back to Jakarta to find a livelihood there for his wife and first child.

At the time, Jalil only had 25,000 rupiah (~ $ 15) in his pocket. But his decision was made. So he moved to Jakarta while his wife and child stayed in Medan. On this second attempt, Jalil turned seriously to the shoe business.

When I ask him how much capital he initially invested in his business, Jalil laughs and says, "We didn't spend any money at all, hahaha." It was a friend of his, an officer in the Department of Agriculture, who provided him with the necessary capital by taking out a loan on a broken car.

Gradually, Jalil's shoe production got going. His shoes weren't expensive. A pair cost 5,000 rupiah (~ $ 3). Whenever he sold a few pairs, he used the money to get new raw materials, either waste leather or leather that was no longer used.

At that time, Jalil received a tempting offer from a company in Cikupa, a city near Jakarta: he could work there in the distribution of food and beverages. Jalil decided to try both at the same time. He kept his shoe business going while he worked for the company in Cikupa. He also put the smallest sales commission he received there into his business and developed it step by step. At that time he was even able to buy a piece of land, which he paid off in installments.