Baladewa group, Bali
When I Made Sujana decided to create a handicraft production group to aid his neighbours during a time of economic struggle, he decided it needed a name that would give it the best possible chance of success. He considered Bala Putera Dewa to be well suited. Representing a strong and powerful Hindu God, Bala Putera Dewa set the tone for a strong and successful producer group.
Bala Putera Dewa is also coincidentally the name of the street on which the group is based in Gianyar, Bali. The group was set up with Pekerti’s help in 1992, when Bapak Sujana came to Jakarta to approach the organisation, which he had heard about through a handicraft-producer friend. Since then Bala Putera Dewa has developed a range of products. Silver and cow bone is used to make jewellery while Christmas decorations, office tools and home wares are shaped from bamboo, iron and albasia wood. Bala Putera Dewa have their tree felling approved by local custom authority Kelian Adat.
In making a hanging angel, raw materials including wood, dye, finish and yarn are firstly purchased. The wood is cut into the shape of the master mould and sanded, then coloured with a base colour of white. Detail is painted on and finished with a water-based finish. Finally, yarn is added to allow the angel to be hung as a Christmas decoration.
The group buys their finishes from a supplier who is certified non-toxic, a standard that was introduced to them during a training session held in colouring techniques. Bala Putera Dewa has also received training in the 10 Standards of Fair Trade and product development.
Pak Sujana says he is proud of his producer group for taking on the Standards of Fair Trade and not using child labour or differentiating salaries for female and male producers. His group welcomed Pekerti’s reforestation efforts in Bali, which began in 2009, as it is particulary concerned with environmental protection. Pak Sujana says he hopes to see in future many “green leaves of fertile Albasia.”
Pak Sujana says Pekerti’s assistance in product design is essential for matching product trends, which the market requires. He says the ability to bargain in setting a price for each product is very empowering.
“I feel very lucky that I can allow my friends the chance to work and feel valued and appreciated, because they are directly involved in determining the price of products. Without Pekerti, we would have to take what we could get,” says Pak Sujana.
“Receiving a down payment prior to production and having sustainable orders is very beneficial. Knowing market trends and receiving training in capacity building from Pekerti is also good and we need it.”
Most importantly, says Pak Sujana, Pekerti focuses on the well being of his workers and indeed, friends.
“Hopefully the foundation remains concerned with producers,” he says.