Social and creative enterprises in Bali and Lombok

On my recent holiday with the family through parts of Bali and Lombok I had my eyes open for local social and creative enterprises. While we were definitely tourists this time (not volunteering, researching or working), I felt that the least I could do was be a responsible traveller — aware of the impacts of my behaviour and directing spending towards those enterprises that were making the greatest contribution.
I did a little research before, but mostly just found out about these as we travelled. We visited Sanur (Bali), Nusa Lembongan and Cenigan, and parts of central and southern Lombok. I am sure there are many In the end we didn’t get to personally visit all of these, and I can’t vouch for their complete legitimacy or social impact. Still, I hope this might be a good starting point for others travelling in the same area, and a reminder for myself when I next return.

One other thought to share before the list…Coming from a town (Geraldton) that has benefitted from the boom in mining is trying to improve its approach to tourism, entrepreneurship and innovation to grow a diverse and sustainable economy, I was surprised to see some very unsustainable tourism, which looked and felt a lot like unsustainable mining! For example, mountain-top removal for foreign-owned land development, severe over-harvesting of natural resources, ‘two speed’ economies where short-term exploitation is  more economically attractive than centuries old farming sustainable practices. I hadn’t previously considered the parallel ways in which both industries can be ecologically destructive, exploitative of local people and cultures, be initiated by foreigners, send most of the profits overseas and be economically unsustainable (e.g. boom and bust cycles). And, both industries can arguably be very positive, sustainable and generative. I’m sharing this list of creative and social enterprises to highlight the latter, and encourage others to invest their time and money as a genuinely generous contribution to the local health and prosperity.

Srikandi and Bersahara — Kuta (Lombok). A small shop that seems to be an outlet for at least two collectives of local makers: and this one My understanding is that that they are local collectives of women who cooperate in the creation and marketing of their wares, and in the case of Bersahara complement development of women’s technical skills with education. We bought several pieces of fabric from them at very reasonable prices. Very highly recommended.

Patuh — Sukarara (Lombok). A cooperative located not far from the new International Airport where all earnings are distributed to the weavers and among the local village (or villages). Driving in and out we noticed there were several other similar outlets, so am not sure if they all have the same or different model. This place was very professionally-run, catered to tourists and had a number of the local weavers working for you to watch. This is the best site I could find on it:

Penujak — Penujak (Lombok). A village (or collection of villages) where most of the women are involved in making pottery. According to our guide (a local lady), they had always made pottery for their own needs and to sell around Lombok, but a visit and mentoring some New Zealanders in 1980s triggered its evolution into an export industry. It seems they take most of their orders from a buyers in Bali who pay about $2.50 for a 2m tall hand-made pot that takes about half a day to make, then paint and alter them for sale in Bali or abroad (at probably 50 times the price)

Felice’s restaurant — Kuta (Lombok). This restaurant advertises that they donate 10-15% of their profits to local education and community development initiatives and “close on Saturdays and provide a healthy meal and educational game for the children who work all week as sellers on the beach” We also read that Solah does something similar, but saw no evidence or further advertising about that when we ate there.

Ellena Rachmawati — Lombok. Just happened to read about this young lady “My Lombok” magazine She’s an Ashoka fellow, working with more than 47 villages to improve their self-reliance rather than being dependent on external funding. Quite an amazing community development initiative, as far as I can tell

Dorsal Effect — Lombok. We looked this Dorsal Effect in advance of our travels. We didn’t end up organising a time to go on this day trip, which looks like it includes seeing the best of marine conservation and the worst of shark-killing and exploitation. The news and reviews suggest it’s an outstanding tour, and an organisation doing important work to provide alternative livelihoods to ex-shark fishers. One for next time!

Benang Stokal — Lombok. We visited the falls on our way from Kuta back to Sengigi on a Sunday, at the same time as hundreds of locals were coming to picnic and bathe fully-clothed under the waterfalls. All tourists (i.e. non-Indonesians) were directed to the guides operating under “Community-based tourism”model, walking us along the trails and explaining a few things along the way. While not convinced of the interpretive value of the guide, it wasn’t much cost so still seemed a good investment

Turtle Conservation and Education Centre — Serangan (Bali). I dropped in to the Turtle conservation and education centre after a surf on the West coast of Serangan. There were no guides available at the time, but I had a look around and got some appreciation for the type and value of the work they do. It seems the trade in turtles has been significantly reduced since the Centre’s opening in 2006. and

Rai Kostawan — Lembongan. Despite dozens of advances and a disintegrating T-shirt, I avoided the temptation to buy a cheap ripoff t-shirt from various markets. My good faith was rewarded when I rounded a corner on the southern end of Lembongan and found this funky gallery and T-shirt shop nestled amongst seaweed farms and overlooking world-class waves at Cenigan. I bought two T-shirts with Rai’s prints and a framed painting of a ‘mola mola’ (sunfish) which fitted neatly in my board bag. Rai doesn’t have a website that I could find, but you can’t miss the shop on the way to Cenigan.

Hubud and Onion Collective — Bali. While I can’t see that they are ‘social enterprises’, I must mention the two most findable coworking spaces in Bali: and and the very cool ‘Inspired” publication: All three make the prospect of attending Startup Weekend, coworking conference or just doing some work in Indonesia seem very, very attractive.

Thanks for reading, I hope the list is useful and I’d very much welcome further comments or information on any of these enterprises or other social enterprises in Bali and Lombok.

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