Jepara, Central Java, Indonesia is famous as the centre of Javanese teak wood carving. Teak or Tectona grandis grows fast in this fertile area of volcanic soil. Jepara produces typical household items such as tables and bookcases, as well as exotic and specialised products such as mosque pulpits and calligraphy carvings. Jepara wood art exhibits a distinctive style of harmonious design. The sector employs approximately 80,000 people, working in mainly small-scale shops. These small shops account for about 95% of total sector production. The livelihoods of millions of people in Java depend on these small shops and its value chain.
Jepara’s wood carvers face problems of increasing wood scarcity compounded by competition from large companies with sophisticated global logistics some of whom benefit from illegal logging. These threaten good local forest management and small local businesses. Lumbung Artho hopes that with better access to capital, local producers can hold their own against increasing local and global pressure on both their businesses and their natural resources.
Lumbung Artho is a Savings and Loans Cooperative where 95% of its members are the small craftsmen of Jepara. Through its partnership with Nusa Makmur, Lumbung Artho funds the wood-carving industry preserving and developing carving talent and manual woodworking skills passed down the generations, thereby protecting local employment, communal skills and local management of local natural resources. Lumbung Artho has been partnership with Nusa Makmur since December 2014 with unblemished on-time repayments since its first drawdown.
Lumbung Artho Cooperative was first established by Mr. Abdul Wahid Badri, the Commissioner of the Cooperative, to support the Al-Islah Foundation for orphans and the poor during the 2009 economic crisis with capital from community members. From this humble start, Lumbung Artho now has 2 branch offices with 4,300 members. The cooperative now funds local woodcraft businesses and continues to support the Foundation with 30% of its yearly profit, which in 2016 increased 244.73% (to Rp. 136 million). Lumbung Artho seeks new funding to support its local artisans and preserving this traditional livelihood. Through the generations, craftsmanship inherited from their ancestors has been their art and their livelihood.