Empowering Women in Indonesia's Cinnamon Supply Chain
The McCormick Women’s Empowerment Framework (M-WEF) was designed with support from CARE International to identify the greatest risks to equality within farming communities, enabling our team and partners to design programs that create a positive impact on women’s level of empowerment. We know that empowering women has a much broader impact on community resiliency, and the M-WEF is a core component of our strategy to increase resiliency of 90% of farmers growing our top five iconic raw materials (black pepper, cinnamon, red pepper, oregano and vanilla).
In cinnamon-growing communities on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, we identified multiple opportunities for women, including increasing their involvement in farm decision making, improving access to financial services, and building resilience to future shocks. Through our on the-ground partner, we provided training for local women in topics such as financial management, bookkeeping, and business development. A number of the most dedicated participants, including Karoliana Pebrian, were then supported in creating their own cinnamon nursery businesses.
Karoliana first heard about the initiative from her supervisor at the cinnamon warehouse where she began by scraping bark and had progressed to sorting cinnamon sticks. “Honestly, when I was initially offered this training, I thought it was just how to grow cinnamon, but it turns out I got additional knowledge such as bookkeeping, management, and also how we communicate. I am very happy because I got a lot of additional knowledge” Karoliana explained.
The initiative began with 120 women attending basic training modules which included basic budgeting and bookkeeping, business startup and employment guidelines. The support of her husband and neighbors in her village of Pelompek was vital to Karoliana, as she had to travel further when offered the opportunity to participate in the advanced training modules. Her biggest challenge was the lack of a vehicle: “I believe that when we intend and strive there will be an open way. Thanks be to God, there are two good-natured neighbors who lent me their motorbikes alternately during my training” she said.
The advanced training was conducted over six days and women who had been present at the basic workshops, understood the workshop material, and were motivated to continue, were invited to join. The focus topics for these days covered financial reporting and analysis, managing business risk, business development planning, advanced loan management, and both theoretical and practical modules on nursery systems. At the end of the advanced training, one representative from each village was offered the opportunity to be supported in establishing a cinnamon nursery. In addition to more advanced business training modules, these women were provided with technical cinnamon instruction, including managing pests and disease, and how to make fertilizer from household and agricultural waste for an additional income.
Karoliana was delighted to be one of those chosen, however was determined that her success should benefit the entire community: “My first plan, I will run this nursery in groups with friends who have attended this training as well, with the hope that this nursery business will grow and provide a good income. In the future, I also want to provide training and knowledge to the community and invite them to do nurseries together. My other hope is that I can go to the field to provide the right knowledge on how to plant cinnamon correctly and effectively to the community.”
The M-WEF model will enable McCormick to track the level of women’s empowerment in communities such as Karoliana’s over a 5-year period. Our aim is that through targeted programming, we can monitor impact, improve our initiatives and draw learnings that can be applied across the herbs and spices sector to drive programming that reduces inequalities.
Karoliana’s dream for the future is to buy a home of her own, have a cinnamon field and send her children to college. “Through this cinnamon nursery business,” she says, “I hope that my dreams can be achieved one by one.”