Yan Kanahebi
Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:22

By Yan Kanahebi
Program Officer


Maria Nogo is not a typical ‘wonder woman’. She was happily retired: a grandmother to one adorable grandchild, with a monthly pension to support her family and a comfortable house in the heart of Larantuka, East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. So, what inspired ‘Mama Mia’ (as she is known) to join Kopernik’s Wonder Women program?

To answer this question, first let me share a little story about Mama Mia’s life before joining the program. She used to be a village instructor for a government family planning program, Keluarga Berencana (KB). The program promotes birth control for family welfare with the catchy tagline ‘dua anak cukup’ (two kids are enough). For thirty years, Mama Mia visited remote villages in East Flores, determined to build awareness among villagers that having many children was not necessarily a path to good fortune.

Mama Mia’s proudest moment was the day in 1997 when she was invited to the State Palace of the Republic of Indonesia. President Soeharto presented her with a medal of honor for her endless dedication to last mile communities in East Flores through the KB program. Her photo shaking hands with the late President still takes pride of place in her living room today.

Although retired from KB, Mama Mia’s desire to help people in the last mile remained. Kopernik’s Wonder Women program offered an opportunity to do something more.

“I always found joy in serving and helping people, especially those in remote villages. Besides, staying at home all day and doing nothing is very boring,” she says.

Introduction to Kopernik

Mama Mia came to know Kopernik after buying a Nazava water filter from one of our top-performing ‘wonder women’, Mama Luku.

“At first, I didn’t believe such amazing technology could exist. My husband did not approve when I bought it. But after we tasted the water and enjoyed the money we saved, we were both totally into the Nazava water filter!”

One night before going to sleep, she suddenly remembered the situation in the remote villages she used to regularly visit: difficult access to clean water and unreliable sources of electricity.

“I immediately thought: these technologies from Kopernik will definitely be more useful for people in the last mile – they need them the most. The next morning, I went straight to the Kopernik office in Larantuka and joined the Wonder Women program.”


Thirty years as a KB instructor helped Mama Mia a lot in introducing clean energy technologies to communities in remote East Flores – most of them already knew, trusted, and respected her. When she visited the villages to introduce the solar lights, water filters, and clean cookstoves, people welcomed her with enthusiasm.

Her unique marketing strategy? Unlike other ‘wonder women’ who use the profit from technology sales to meet the needs of their families, Mama Mia invests the money in her business – by buying technologies to give to her relatives in the villages.

“Usually after people receive the technologies and feel the benefits, they will promote them to their neighbours and village. Not long after, orders begin to arrive.”

This word-of-mouth marketing strategy has been a great success. Since joining the Wonder Women program in March 2015, Mama Mia has sold more than 100 technologies. She is happy that even at her not-so-young age she can still pursue her passion for serving last mile communities in East Flores.

“It feels amazing when I call the people in the villages and hear what they have to say about the technologies. Their houses used to be so dim and their ceilings were so black because of all the kerosene smoke, but not anymore. I’m grateful that they can feel the benefits I feel.”