From Aceh to East Nusa Tenggara, Rumbia - Kopernik’s Sister Organisation is Thriving

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have been collaborating with Rumbia, our sister organization, through the distribution of cloth masks to support underserved communities in Aceh and face shields for health workers in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Rumbia is an Aceh-based organisation that spun-off from Kopernik’s Wonder Women Program in Aceh in March 2017. Now, as an independent organization, Rumbia focuses on poverty reduction through the distribution of simple clean energy technologies, community economic empowerment through sustainable business initiatives, and community education on renewable energy solutions.

As the first organization focusing on introducing renewable energy solutions in North Aceh, Rumbia has been addressing specific energy-related issues facing communities in the region, while supporting women entrepreneurs who were previously part of Kopernik's Wonder Women Program. Kopernik supported the establishment of Rumbia which included registering the organisation under the Indonesian Ministry of Law, funding its first project and providing capacity development to the team.

Rumbia’s first project, LESKA, turned unused kerosene lamps into solar lanterns in North Aceh.

In 2018, Rumbia conducted its first independent project, Lentera Sinar Surya untuk Semua (LESKA) which was funded by Kopernik. Through the project, Rumbia built solar lanterns using unused kerosene lamps to enhance farmers' and fishermen's access to renewable energy technology. The project resulted in economic and environmental benefits for the farmers and fishermen. The achievement and the potential of the LESKA Project led Rumbia to secure multi-year funding from New Zealand Aid to continue to implement the project and introduce renewable energy solutions to even more underserved communities in Aceh. By 2020, Rumbia built 60 solar lanterns and trained 143 people to build the lamps themselves, so the simple technology can reach more people in remote areas in Aceh.

Rumbia’s first project, LESKA, turned unused kerosene lamps into solar lanterns in North Aceh.

Rumbia also supports women’s economic empowerment through technology distribution businesses under their PIJAR Program. The program was inspired by Kopernik’s Wonder Woman Program in Aceh. Through the PIJAR Program, Rumbia supports women entrepreneurs. Women participating in the PIJAR Program earn additional income from selling clean energy technology to support their families' livelihoods.

The PIJAR program also empowers women to become change agents in their communities by developing skills such as public speaking, marketing, networking, and financial management skills. With these new skills, women under the PIJAR program have brought positive contributions to their families and their communities. Some PIJAR agents also employed other women through their businesses, and some even became representatives in the village government, which is rare in North Aceh.

Rumbia empowers women entrepreneurs and equips them with new skills.

Fast forward to 2020, Rumbia has come a long way. They moved their office from Lhokseumawe Regency to Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh, and recognized as the implementation partner for the Governor’s decree for a Sustainable Development in Aceh. Rumbia also contributed to the development of a book on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Aceh.

As a relatively new and small organization, Rumbia has also faced some challenges along the way. It was not an easy journey, but Rumbia continues to thrive and has now expanded activities to East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). In March 2020, Rumbia established a new branch office in Kupang, NTT given the high demand in the area for clean energy technology, and is able to leverage the established networks and resources from Kopernik’s previous projects in the province.

We are proud to see our sister organization stand on its own feet, flourish and expand their important work to other regions to have a bigger impact among underserved communities in Indonesia. We will continue to support and collaborate with Rumbia, as a part of Kopernik's family, in addressing social and environmental challenges in Indonesia.