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The idea is to keep the lake RAWA PENING as a source of life for the local community, by turning water hyacinth into high value furniture products. This Innovation brings positive impact not only for the business but also to the surrounding population involved in the production process and for the environment by reducing water hyacinth in a responsible way. It is a simple process with a huge impact.
In 1997, Aryani started changing Water Hyacinths (which at that time was abundant that it covered 80% of the water surface of RAWA PENING lake) into products like bags, household utensils and furniture. The RAWA PENING is a natural lake which is used as a water source, for fishery for local people, as a tourist attraction, as well as electricity generation in hydropower Jelok-Timo, which is capable of generating electric power of up to 25 MW. The lake is a source of life.
The process to transform the water hyacinth is simple but takes quite a long time. After “harvested” from Rawa Pening, the Water Hyacinths are dried in the sun for about two weeks, then they are braided into a long braid which can then be woven into a designed shape. Sometimes it is painted and lacquered to create more attractive furniture like chairs, desks, lampshades, sofas, etc.
In the whole process, Aryani is committed to apply the fair trade price for the 'farmers' who harvest the water hyacinth and provide training and a fair wage system for the surrounding society that are involved in the production process. “I want to produce a good quality product, I believe a good quality product can be produced only from the right way” Aryani said. Overall, Aryani’s way in changing and adding value to natural unused material and weed is showing that the innovation brings big impact not only for the business but also for the society and the environment.
“This business has never faced a dilemma. It is not like other industries creating pollution or the other environmental problems as a side effect. It is a solution to a problem. It is about changing the waste, the weeds into something useful for the society and environment" says Aryani. There has been previous efforts to create businesses utilising the Water Hyacinth in the outside area of Semarang. Aryani was inspired to open her own business because of her location very close to the Rawa Pening, where so many growing hyacinths existed.
That inspiration was reinforced by the arrival of a buyer from France that wanted to buy furniture and other household utensils from her gallery. “I notice that nowadays there is an increasing number of ‘modern’ people who are aware and would like to use products made from natural materials. It is an opportunity, I have to grab it” Aryani said in the interview.
Last but not least, the inspiration came from the condition of RAWA PENING that at that time had its water surface 80% covered by Water Hyacinth. Various program proposals to remove Water Hyacinth including eradication using herbicides were suggested. Aryani came up with a different approach. She convinced the government that supporting the household industrial sector in crafting would be the best solution.
This little effort brought big impact in the continuity of community life surrounding lake Rawa Pening. Besides saving the lake from sedimentation due to the Water Hyacinth, this business provides benefits to local communities by empowering the people to be capable craftsmen. Overall Aryani Art can raise the community's life quality in the region. All benefits are created by integrating all the factors into an embedded supply chain that ultimately generate profits for the business sustainability.
With a fair trade price to the farmers supplying the water hyacinth, Aryani gets continuous supply of materials. It has been a priority for the farmers to fulfill the needs of Aryani's gallery. The location of the gallery is the nearest place to the Rawa Pening lake, so there is no excessive handling cost and the cost can be re-allocated into some other operational cost.
Empowerment programs that have been carried out by Aryani to give the local community the skills needed to create the product, has created interconnectedness, which in turn fosters a sense of belonging to the product they create. This is why Aryani can produce high quality products not only for domestic use but also to foreign countries.
As one of the initiators of handicrafts made from Water Hyacinth, banana stalks, corn husks and dried flowers in Central Java, Aryani gained the trust of the local government to represent the city of Semarang in events like exhibition of industrial products, seminars and some other public activities. This is an opportunity to do the promotion and introduction of products at such events so that more people get to know the products, which ensures business sustainability.
Farmers, as part of the supply chain and craftsmen as part of the processes, can now have additional income, and housewives who work as craftsmen can now meet the needs of the family, that previously were depending only on the husband's work as farmers, fishermen, or factory workers. Now the family is supported in a better way.
Aryani is giving training to the local community, which is helping the industrial sector's in the surrounding area of Rawa Pening. Similar businesses with unique products are popping up, which means that the business is acting as an inspiration for others, of course then adding to the competition of the business. But Aryanti never worried. “We can grow together to reach sustainability of live” Aryani says.
Many methods can be done to eradicate the problem caused by the Water Hyacinth including the use of pesticides. Aryani's art is using Water Hyacinth as the main material to make high value products like furniture. This will automatically reduce the amount of Water Hyacinth in a balanced manner, and at the same time is reducing sedimentation rate. It also keeps the function of Rawa Pening as the water source for fishery, tourist attraction and power generator.
Overall, what Aryani Art has done is a proof that a small business can also do something that brings benefits not only for the business (profit) but also for the society (people) and for the environment (Planet). They are doing well by doing good.
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Aryani, Founder; Owner