A pilot project initiated 10 years ago has proved successful in creating sustainable income sources for several villages in the rainforest areas near Mawas, and the villages can now support themselves. Marie Sigvardt, Head of Programmes at Save the Orangutan, has recently returned from Borneo, bringing with her the message of the project’s success.

Cattle, pigs, rubber trees, fishing ponds, and small kiosks.

Those are some of the sources of livelihood women from the villages around Mawas have established with initial help. The so-called microfinance loan and savings groups, which Save the Orangutan has supported, have proved sustainable, Marie Sigvardt, Head of Programmes, proclaims after her recent visit in Borneo.

– I have never doubted that we have helped implement very important tools that aid local communities in creating a sustainable economy. However, I must admit that the groups are a bigger success than I could ever imagine, Marie Sigvardt states.

Sustainable entrepreneurship is an alternative to illegal mining and logging and thus benefits nature, the rainforest, and the critically endangered orangutan.

Save the Orangutan has established loan and savings groups in four out of 62 villages in the Mawas area in cooperation with BOS Foundation-Mawas and with grants from Danida (CISU). Four years later, the last subsidy has been paid and the scheme has proved an evident success. But it is not enough.

– If Mawas is to become sustainable, more villages have to be included – a process that has already been initiated, and subsidies have already been granted by a number of BOSF-Mawas’ European supporters and partners, Marie Sigvardt explains.

Photo: Marie Sigvardt