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APP, MTG Partner to Turn 1K Women from Forest Communities into Herbal Entrepreneurs

Image credit: Ricky Martin/CIFOR

The Indonesian Network of the United Nations Global Compact today announced a partnership between Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Martha Tilaar Group (MTG) — a leading Indonesian manufacturer of cosmetics and herbal medicine — to train 1,000 women from forest communities to help preserve herbal plants and become self-sufficient entrepreneurs.

Through this partnership, the women will be trained on how to identify and process valuable local herbs, enabling community-level entrepreneurship that will provide sustainable alternative livelihoods to these women and their families. The target is to reach and train 1,000 women by 2020. The collaboration is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically addressing the Goals related to No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Partnerships for the Goals.

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“The Women’s Empowerment Program has been one of our focus areas together with Business and Human Rights, Water, Children’s Rights in Business, among others. We hope that this partnership can inspire other organisations to work together for the achievement of SDGs,” said Y. W. Junardy, President of Global Compact Network Indonesia.

Both APP and MTG have long histories of corporate sustainability initiatives, but Global Compact Network Indonesia saw the opportunity to align both initiatives so that both parties can share resources and expertise to benefit an even larger group of women.

After years of being vilified by environmental NGOs and losing a significant portion of its business for causing rampant deforestation, APP did an about-face in 2013 with a commitment to end the clearing of natural forest across its entire supply chain in Indonesia. It also introduced a  Forest Conservation Policy, which includes an Integrated Forestry and Farming System (IFFS) program to help forest communities switch from traditional natural forest conversions to sustainable agricultural businesses. To date, the IFFS has been implemented in nearly 200 villages, benefitting more than 14,000 households.

Since its establishment in 1970, MTG has dedicated itself to the empowerment of women and has built programs to address the issue of human trafficking in Indonesia. To date, MTG has trained more than 7,500 women in various areas, such as mental health professions, healthy beverage entrepreneurship and financial management.

APP’s collaboration with MTG will see the latter work and train women who are living in IFFS communities. The training will include identification, preservation and utilization of native herbs in a sustainable manner.

“This is a great opportunity for MTG to expand its empowerment program and to reach communities that we previously had no access to. This is a natural marriage as our program also dovetails with APP's desire for their forest communities to find alternative livelihoods to reduce the pressure of needing to cultivate forest land for agriculture,” said Martha Tilaar, founder of MTG and 2018 SDG Pioneer.

­­Goh Lin Piao, Managing Director of Asia Pulp & Paper, said: “APP is very proud to partner with MTG to empower women within the forest communities. MTG has a proven track record of successfully training and helping women in Indonesia to be self-sufficient and this perfectly complements APP’s mission to conserve natural forests and alleviate poverty, which is one of the drivers of unsustainable land use.”

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