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Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are a key driver of economic growth in many countries, especially developing ones. In Indonesia, MSMEs stimulate the creation of jobs and spark innovation which help to reduce poverty, drive development, and increase prosperity.

Unfortunately, due to the global economic crisis amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many of these companies have been significantly affected. The implementation of various government policies, such as restrictions on large-scale social gatherings aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus have greatly affected the supply of raw materials for MSMEs. This has also caused fluctuations in supply and demand for these businesses, ultimately affecting their overall health.

In view of this, APRIL Group has taken steps to focus on assisting affiliated MSMEs with protection and recovery schemes through its partner program.

APRIL’s MSMEs Program participants comprises two types of partners:

    • Inline MSMEs, intended for companies whose businesses are directly related to APRIL's operations such as material supply, manpower supply, transportation rental and crop cutting services. APRIL currently has a 249 inline partners.
    • Offline MSMEs, intended for companies whose businesses are not connected to APRIL’s operations. Our offline MSME partners are engaged in businesses such as mechanical workshops, handicraft creation, food production and honey production. APRIL currently has 129 offline partners.

BR Binahidra Logiardi, Manager of APRIL’s Community Development Department, said that APRIL follows the principle of ‘Grow and Develop Together with the Community’, meaning that the company develops alongside continued improvement in the welfare of communities residing around its operational areas.

APRIL, through Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) routinely provides guidance to its partners to continue to develop through the provision of production facilities, training, licensing, marketing, monitoring and evaluation as well as consultation and coaching when they encounter issues, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of APRIL’s MSME partners have directly experienced the positive impact of the program which have saved their businesses during this crisis. Here are what some of them have to say:

Rizal - Pioneer of eucalyptus soap in Riau

"In 2019, I attended training to learn how to make soap from eucalyptus leaves. This training session was part of APRIL’s MSME Development Program. Making natural soap was something new for me. There were a few challenges to overcome, but I finally became an entrepreneur and established CV Mitra Riau Andalan. We produce natural body soap, hand soap, dish soap, hand sanitizers and floor cleaners. Of course, being an APRIL program partner was an advantage, as the company always gave me full support.

It was pretty unexpected when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, as what followed was a rapid increase in business following recommendations for regular hand washing with soap and hygiene maintenance with hand sanitizers. This happened because of word-of-mouth promotions, but also because my products were sold online on Toko Andalan – an e-commerce shopping app created by APRIL’s Community Development Department to help market MSME partners’ products. I currently deal with 25 resellers in various cities and my sales turnover has skyrocketed to 1,400%! APRIL's trust in the quality of my products also meant orders by company management for places of worship, healthcare facilities and other public places in Pangkalan Kerinci.

I’m aiming to explore the natural cosmetics field next. Of course, I also really want to share my knowledge and invite the community to also learn about entrepreneurship by being an APRIL partner!"

Tengku Indra - Head of Rumah Madu Andalan (RMA)

“I would have never imagined that a pandemic would benefit Rumah Madu Andalan – a place for Siang honey farmers to distribute their products at competitive prices. The coronavirus outbreak has led to many people being more aware about the significance of maintaining good health, including through beneficial nutritional intake. As honey is beneficial to our health, I’ve been receiving a lot of honey orders from Jakarta – sometimes thousands of bottles at a time! Fortunately, supply of the raw materials has remained undisrupted as APRIL opened the opportunity for us to establish partnerships with the community of Sialang tree owners in the Pelalawan, Siak, and Kuantan Singingi (Kuansing) districts in Riau long ago. These partnerships are what enables us to meet the rapidly increasing demand for honey during this Covid-19 pandemic.”

Ni' mah - Member of Rumah Batik Andalan (RBA)

“My time at Rumah Batik Andalan began when I was looking to improve my family’s economic situation and attended a batik training session organised by APRIL. I was trained by the batik makers at RBA at the Community Development Training and Integrated Business Center at Riau Complex. I was also sent to Pekalongan – all expenses paid – to receive further training directly from talented batik makers there. Now I am grateful to enjoy a steady income from the batik I make and sell here, even when there has been a decline in batik sales recently due to Covid-19. However, the APRIL Community Development Department has been supporting RBA by continuing to promote our batik, and the company even placed a huge order for us to make batik company uniforms for RAPP employees.”