Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Uniting Bali to the Bay

Uniting Bali to the BayName of Social Enterprise and URL? Bersatu Designs (www.BersatuDesigns.com)

Who is the person? What is there background?

Cissy Deluca has worked extensively in international development, first as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana and then in marketing for Give2Asia She currently works for Kiva.org, a microfinance organization, as a Senior Field Support Specialist in Asia.

During her time in the Peace Corps, she was heavily involved in activities focused around income generation projects for women. One such project involved collaboration with a local NGO, Women and Development Project (WADEP), to train the women in her village on how to make and market soap and talcum powder.

At Kiva, Deluca spent four months in the office before boarding a plane to West Timor, Indonesia to work directly with the field partners and borrowers. Cissy moved to Bali permanently the following year to work directly with Kiva’s partners in Asia. It was in Bali where Cissy saw the beauty and culture of the island, but it was also where she saw the high levels of unemployment among the women living in her neighborhood. She became aware of the craftsmanship skills of some of her neighbors after learning they made leather straps for sandals, but for a very small wage. The opportunity to directly impact the lives of those around her seemed to present itself.

I met Cissy while interning at Kiva a few years back. We remained friends and she recently asked my assistance to help her out with starting a business. I come from an entrepreneurial background so I was happy to lend a hand. However, Cissy is the heart of Bersatu. She interacts with the people of Bersatu on a daily basis, training them to make different jewelry to be sold by the company. She is extremely dedicated to providing income for the people in Bali and in no way wants it to be anything less than dignified opportunities.

Asha Bhatia oversees all the social media and marketing activities of Bersatu. Asha has been involved in international development since graduating college, beginning with her time as an intern at Kiva. She has a strong focus on women entrepreneurship and the ability for them to gain financial independence through entrepreneurial endeavors, especially within developing communities. Asha works at Give2Asia and conducts media relations for Bersatu in order to focus on positively affect the world in whatever ways she can.

The artisans of Bersatu are all Indonesian and most have young children. The majority of them are women but there is one man involved who also helps craft products for Bersatu.

What is your product or service?

Locally handcrafted jewelry, we make earrings, necklaces, bracelets and clutches. They are made from locally sourced material by a small group of Indonesian men and woman. Indonesia has a large supply of natural resources that can be utilized to create beautiful and fashionable jewelry.

Date officially launched?

We started working on the jewelry and website in January 2011 and officially launched the website in August.

What came about that made them help in social change? Why was this social venture created?

When Deluca first visited Indonesia in 2009 she fell in love of the beauty and culture of the island of Bali. She moved there in 2010 and noticed the high levels of unemployment among the people in her neighborhood. She observed the different skills of them and noticed they had good craftsmanship skills. They would make leather straps for sandals for a very small wage. She realized the opportunity to directly impact those around her and created Bersatu. Bersatu is the Bahasa Indonesian word for “united”. Bersatu is Cissy’s way of providing dignified employment opportunities for people in Indonesia to help them care for their families.

How many years and how many people has this person helped?

Still in its first year, Bersatu currently works with a small group of 6 local Indonesians and their families. While directly helping the 6 people who create the jewelry, many of them have spouses and children who benefit from what Bersatu is doing.

Uniting Bali to the BayCould others help you and how?

Others can help us by purchasing products through our website. The advantage of having Cissy onsite ensures the money goes directly back to the people. Another way people can help us out is to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and tell their friends about us. We’re bootstrapping and Cissy, Asha and I am all volunteering our time and are trying to use social media to get the word out about the company.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

We use Facebook to market to everyone and run contests offering free products. (www.Facebook.com/BersatuDesigns) and Twitter for similar purposes. We used a free trial of Market Samurai. Reddit has been useful in creating free ads and are looking at using Google Adwords if a free promotion comes along. We also use GoogleDocs and Dropbox to share files.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

There are 2 of us working in SF who ship the orders and get the word out locally by speaking with small boutique stores. Cissy works with 6 people in Indonesia to create the jewelry.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out? (Please provide links)

Yes we love social media as a means to get the word out, www.Facebook.com/BersatuDesigns and www.Twitter.com/bersatudesigns

Advice to other entrepreneurs?

Sometimes you have to just go for it. You’ll never know how it is going to turn out unless you try. And in the end, if you tried, isn’t that success in itself?

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