Project Bertumbuh: Who Knew a Meatball Could Determine Your Destiny?

We've been asking people to tell us stories about their entrepreneurial beginnings. In addition to the themes mentioned in the previous post, we are now digging into the obstacles.

Prio is a meatball seller in Ciherang, and this morning he invited us in to sit down and chat. His day typically starts at 3:30am when he wakes up. From 4:00am to 6:00am, Prio goes to the market to buy ingredients, returns home, and makes meatballs until 9:30am. From 9:30am to 10:00am he takes a rest. The the real work begins from 10:00am to 10:00pm when Prio sells his product. All of this hard work nets him about 100,000 rupiah a day – or roughly $10. He knows which days he makes more money (Saturdays and Mondays), but he has no idea why.

Prio is in Ciherang because he didn’t make much money in the previous town. There, he let a customer eat everyday for a week before asking for money. In response, the guy did not offer payment, but instead punched him in the eye. Prio took the opportunity to scoot his way out of town. He feared that if he stayed, a guy who would punch him instead of pay a week’s worth of meatballs would do a lot worse for three months in jail.

We’ve been asking people to tell us stories about their entrepreneurial beginnings. In addition to the themes mentioned in the previous post, we are now digging into the obstacles. In one example, the factory workers near Tangerang have to pay a local preman (it could be translated as thug or community enforcer) 3-3.5 million rupiah for a job. The job they purchase is usually a short-term contract lasting between three to 12 months.

A number of people we’ve talked with attribute their fortune and the path of their future to something much bigger than themselves. Prio would like to own a kiosk one day, but he is waiting on the will of God. We hope he can have both.

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Gigi Gormley

Gigi is an American born, Italian-at-heart, former design researcher and strategist at frog. She is passionate about agriculture, gut bacteria and the outdoors.

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