Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have shifted to producing personal protective equipment (PPE), which remain in high demand, to survive the economic impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis.Abdul Manaf, who owns a small business that produces motorcycle accessories in Bogor, West Java, has turned his fortune around from declining sales as a result of the epidemic to a more than six-fold increase in revenue by switching to producing face shields.“As we join the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are trying to develop a business. But our [effort] is not easy, because our prior business used metal while we use other materials to make face shields,” he said at an virtual discussion on June 12. The country has surpassed a cumulative total of 39,000 confirmed cases to date as it reels from the economic impacts of the epidemic.Indonesia’s economy grew just 2.97 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the lowest in 19 years.The government has also allocated part of its Rp 641.17 trillion ($45.1 billion) economic recovery fund to soften the COVID-19 economic impact on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It has already earmarked Rp 34.15 trillion in interest payment subsidies for ultra-micro businesses under its UMi and Mekaar programs.Tri Retno, who owns the Citra Handicraft SME that produces patchwork bags in Depok, West Java, is also using leftover fabric to make face masks and house dresses to offset the declining sales during the health crisis.While she initially produced the face masks to donate, Retno later decided to monetize the products as orders started to come in. Citra Handicraft is a partner of Astra International’s CSR arm, Yayasan Dharma Bakti Astra.“To maintain revenue, I just use the materials available at home because it’s hard to get raw materials [now],” she said at the June 12 virtual discussion.Retno added that she hoped to gain assistance in selling her products online, as she was experiencing difficulties in marketing her products during the crisis.YDBA head Sigit Kumala said on the same occasion that the foundation planned to optimize online platforms to market the SME’s products.“With this collaboration, we hope it can facilitate us in [working] together and developing independent SMEs to ready them for the international market,” he said.Leading Indonesian start-ups like Grab, Gojek and LinkAja have also added features and promotions to help MSMEs digitize their businesses to survive the current economic downturn.Ride-hailing company Grab Indonesia has introduced a new app called GrabMerchant that aims to provide a one-stop service platform for MSMEs – including those in the food and beverage industry – to digitally manage their operational hours, orders, employees, menus and promotions.Topics : Since Abdul switched Karunia Mandiri’s business to the new production line a month after the disease emerged Indonesia in March, he said that his monthly revenue had increased from the usual Rp 7 million (US$500) to Rp 45 million.He recently hired three more employees to keep up with the demand and fulfill an order for 2,000 face shields from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).SMEs, which contribute more than half of the country’s economy, were losing up to 57 percent of their sales in late April due to the coronavirus restriction policies, according to data from the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry.The health emergency has disrupted economic activity across the nation with the government calling on its citizens to implement physical distancing measures and forcing offices, factories, shops and schools to close temporarily to contain the spread of the disease.
6 months after disappearingBy Andrew CarmichaelThe skeletal remains of a Black Bush Polder woman was on Friday morning dug up from a grave at the back of her yard at Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder, Berbice.The woman went missing since September last year and her husband kept telling his children that she had migrated to the US.The woman Lilwantie Balack, also called “Darling”, 39, of Mibicuri North, BlackThe grave in which the body was foundBush Polder, Corentyne, was last seen on September 3, 2016, by her children.At about 11:30h on Friday her remains were found in a four-foot grave situated about 120 meters behind the house.Her 21-year-old daughter, Dharshni Davi Balack, said her father gave conflicting reports about the whereabouts of her mother. She related to the media that her father told herself and siblings that their mother migrated to the US and when other relatives asked him about her, he told them a different version.Suspicion grew as no phone calls were received from Lilwantie and her husband; Sunildat Balack, also called “Red Man”, 43, took a 21-year-old woman to live with him. The three Balack children soon discovered that their new stepmother was wearing their mother’s wedding band.On Thursday morning, Major Crime Unit and investigators from B Division went to the grave, which was identified by the suspect. Government Pathologist DrDead: Lilwantie BalackVivekanand Bridgemohan was also present.Investigators dug for about two hours then found bones and another two hours of digging were able to get the entire skeleton.Divisional Commander, Assistant Commissioner Ian Amsterdam said they will have to conduct a DNA to confirm the woman’s identity.Meanwhile, Police who arrested the suspect on Tuesday were also initially told that the woman had migrated. However local immigration records confirmed that she did not leave the country. Investigators then pressured the suspect who crumbled and confessed.Guyana Times understands that that on September 6, 2016, the man and his wife had an argument over her wanting to go to the USA. This newspaper as told that the argument escalated after the man refused to allow his wife to go on vacation.The man told investigators that he coked his wife, who passed out and fell to the ground. He said that after she passed out he became scared and dug a hole in the back yard and buried her.At the time of the incident, the Balacks’s had a 17-year-old daughter living withInvestigators exiting the crime scenethem. However at the time of the incident she was not at home and when she returned she was told that her mother had left home for the USA.The dead woman’s daughter, Dharshni Balack told the media that after sometime they attempted to get the Police involved in the matter but were threatened by her father’s relatives.She said from the first day she was told that her mother had migrated there was the suspicion that something was amiss. She said the fact that her mother’s clothes were intact suggested that she did not go anywhere.Her brother Khemraj Balack tried to hold back the tears as he watched his mother’s remains being placed in containers by Police. The young man expressed no sympathy for his father and said whatever happens to him he deserves. “Let him feel how me Mummy feel…,” he said as tears bubbled in his eyes.Residents in the community describe the late Balack as a peaceful farmer, who never spoke much. They said in recent months the suspect had become obnoxious and had been consuming more alcohol that he was previously known to consume.Reports also indicate that since the disappearance of the woman, the suspect had never gone into his farm alone and would pay a neighbour to accompany him. The body was discovered buried in the said farm.The father of the now dead woman Chattergoon Budram was also on the scene on Friday.Gowmatie Edwards, who lives next door said that she was also told that the woman was overseas.Residents in the community describe the woman as a peaceful farmer who never spoke much. They say in recent months the suspect started to drink regularly.The Police are continuing their investigation.