As part of Solaris Paper -Australia’s Open Doors Program I recently had the privilege of meeting Ketut, the head of Community Development Department for the Indah Kiat Mill in Perawang, Indonesia.
The Open Doors program brings people from Australia and New Zealand to Indonesia to see firsthand how our affiliate, Asia Pulp & Paper, operates. Central to the program is our commitment to offering guests access to whatever they want to see and giving them the opportunity to make up their own minds about APP’s operations.
The most recent Open Doors brought me to the Learning Centre run by APP in Perawang. The centre has over 1,500 members and gives the local community support in many different ways. Children are given access to books and the internet to help them learn. There is a room where kids can watch educational DVD’s and for the younger children there is a play room.
While I was there Ketut demonstrated how local women can learn how to weave in the Learning Centre and then can borrow a loom, which allows them to weave at home. This allows them to make fabric they can use or sell.
Ketut also explained how the Learning Centre helps the local community by lending people pregnant cows which they tend until the cow gives birth. The Learning Centre then takes the cow back and leaves the calf with the family. This gives people the opportunity to start their own herd.
While these initiatives are impressive by themselves, the fact that the Learning Centre helps everyone in the community, and not just people and families involved in the Mill, adds an interesting dimension.
With this week being Anti-Poverty week in Australia, the work that Ketut does for APP reinforces for me that companies can have a positive impact on communities around them. And in a country like Indonesia where around 30 million people still live below the poverty line the importance of that impact cannot be underestimated.