Planet Indonesia

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Planet Indonesia

Planet Indonesia is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit dedicated to the conservation of earth's ecosystems and communities by providing market-based incentives that balance ecological and human livelihoods with cultural preservation.


Our approach is an innovative method to incentivize conservation and community development at the grassroots level. We help low-income communities to a better life by providing economic benefits for preserving local resources and customs. Each of our programs mobilizes communities by integrating sustainable local business models into our conservation and cultural preservation initiatives.

We embrace a "bottom-up" approach, helping constituents own every step of the planning, implementation, and managing of initiatives, as we understand this to be essential for long-lasting, sustainable change. The main goals of our approach are to assist communities achieve financial self-reliance and promote ecologically sound economic development.


Our approach is unique in that we create local business groups for each of our programs (Kelompok Usaha Bersama), or work to increase the effectiveness of already existing local groups. This integrated approach allows for communities to self-fund, meaning that the output of the program can then provide further input. By founding small cooperatives and Kelompok Usaha Bersama we ensure that our projects can be completely self-reliant and run by the community. We are dedicated to working ourselves out of an area, and empowering communities to create their own sustainable business models that positively impact the world around them.


We often refer to our method as a social fusion of development and environmental work. We believe there is a connection between economics, people, culture, and our environment. When these aspects fall out of balance our world suffers. Planet Indonesia is a platform for social fusion as our method brings these pieces of life back into balance.

Planet Indonesia

Community Business Services
Communities are at risk and stuck in poverty traps because of their inability to diversify their livelihoods and access different markets. This negatively impacts local economies as communities become dependent on large companies (e.g. palm oil, mining) as a source of income. Moreover, when they face negative stochastic events they often turn to the illegal use and consumption of natural resources (e.g. illegal logging, animal trafficking, illegal fishing). In West Borneo, the livelihoods and stability of local communities is directly linked with environmental degradation and local cultural identity.
Across there region cultural diversity and local identity is quickly disappearing. As noted in our Application the anthropological history of the indigenous group of borneo, Dayak, is one of the most unique in the world. Today, from globalization, poverty, and decreasing access to natural resources their local culture is quickly disappearing. We use our communal business model to link cultural preservation with sustainable development.
We have identified a method that is extremely flexible and scalable as it mobilizes communities to take action, increase their governance over local resources, produce a sustainable income, and ultimately puts villagers back at the center of the decision making process.

Communal Business Services is a group organizational structure that unites community members to solve problems and achieve common goals. As a first step, Planet Indonesia facilitates a participatory process to design and establish a small business group (called KUB/PUM: Kelompok Usaha Bersama atau Pelayanan usaha Masyarakat). These groups will directly address the communities’ needs and will operate based on local values, traditions, and customs.

A fundamental aspect of creating a KUB/PUM is providing training on group operations, organizational management, economic activities, business management, and market access. These capacity trainings - along with the creation of these communal business groups – provide essential knowledge and skills that allow communities to improve their economic conditions, become self- reliant, and responsible for their own resources.

Why this method?
Establishing these groups is an important cornerstone of Planet Indonesia’s successful collaboration with communities. Planet Indonesia believes that communities must have ownership of their development process in order to achieve long- lasting and sustainable change. For this reason, the Planet Indonesia model begins with a commitment to the community, to ensure they are actively involved in the decision-making and strategic planning. Helping communities run successful operations exponentially increases community empowerment and maximizes capacity building.
Planet Indonesia has identified several shortcomings that are often present in communities in West Kalimantan:

  1. Lack of knowledge and skills

  2. Lack of access to markets in a business context

  3. Lack of capital

By facilitating KUB/PUMs, Planet Indonesia is directly addressing each of these limitations. Communal groups will be established not only as a business group, but also as a platform where future problems can be addressed. Through this model, the community will have the capacity to be critical and choose projects and programs that will address the community’s interests.

How does Planet Indonesia establish Communal Business Groups?
Initially, Planet Indonesia will create a facilitator team with experience and knowledge about small stakeholder business practices. After this, Planet Indonesia will produce a handbook to explain the process of implementation based on the newest knowledge.
There are several stages to communal business group establishment. The facilitator team will begin by conducting an initial assessment to weigh in the potential for a KUB/PUM within a community. Then the facilitator team begins initial meetings with the community. Once the potential is identified, and business prospects are agreed upon with community members, Planet Indonesia and the community will enter into a partnership where both have the same stake in running the program implementation. They will be equal associates in a horizontal relationship.
Planet Indonesia will utilize this model in all our programs. We have found other organizations are interested in hiring our staff as consultants because of the high-impact nature of this model.
An overview of the Communal Business Group stages:

  1. Assessment: Initial meetings with community leaders, secondary data collection and market analysis.

  2. Socialization: Meetings with all the community to collect primary information and listen to their needs and concerns.

  3. Defining the program together: Defining leadership and organizational structure.

  4. Set up of sample plot for business initiation

  5. Trainings

  6. Monitoring and Evaluation

  7. Annual report of progress

Planet Indonesia

Textiles, Indigenous Women, and the Weaving Cooperative
The Problem:

There is no argument indigenous groups are the most marginalized communities around the world. Over the past few hundred years we have seen a complete destruction of indigenous rights by governments, military, and agencies on a global scale. Within these communities, the problem is exponentially larger for women who have little to no access to economic development, healthcare, and education.

West Borneo is no exception to this rule. The Indigenous peoples of Borneo have lost nearly all of their local cultural traditions, governance of natural resources, and have alarmingly high levels of human poverty. But we have come up with a solution to this problem.

The Approach:

It’s simple. Restore economic development, build local capital to increase access to healthcare and education, and do it for the most at-risk people on the planet. But we wanted to take it a step further. We integrated local cultural identity into our model.

The Solution: Empowering Women through Revitalizing Traditional Art Work

We embrace a “bottom-up” approach, helping women own every step of the planning, implementation, and managing of initiatives, as we understand this to be essential for long-lasting, sustainable change.

We build local credit stocks and capital that help communities stabilize and increase their self-reliance. When each member sells a product they must return a small amount to a revolving fund that is used to bring financial stability and resilience to local communities. Members can take out loans from their local communal business to further develop their products, cover damages, and even for education and healthcare bills. Additionally, our model mobilizes communities to control their own future by building self-reliance through sustainable development and governance over natural resources. Together our team has over 20 years of experience of using communal businesses and cooperatives as an organizational structure to activate community-engagement around economic, cultural, and conservation issues. Our innovative model is unique in its combination of finance with capital and capacity building through sustainable business.

Particularly, we are working with over 1500 indigenous women throughout 44 villages to revitalize traditional art work as a form of economic empowerment. Currently, the price of their prized products has decreased and poverty levels are spiking as women no longer have access to raw goods and natural dyes. Our project with UN Women Project Inspire focuses on forming community gardens, marketing programs, and natural dye manuals to both increase access to raw goods and natural dyes while providing technical training on how to use various raw goods to increase product quality and price. Our project will directly increase the local income for over 1500 indigenous women, and through the use of their revolving fund directly increase loan availability for education, business development, and health care access. Furthermore, our natural dye manuals will be made publicly available, and indigenous women across Borneo can use these manuals to increase the quality and price of their weaving products.

5X the Price, 5X the Impact:

When women use natural dyes, produced in our community gardens, they bring 5X the price for their products, which means a revolving fund that is 5x as large, and that means they can:

-Pay for their daughters' healthcare bills

-Pay for their husband’s transportation to work

-Pay for their children's school supplies

-Pay for their business development

Although there are 1500 members, the indirect impact to their families is well over 10,000 individuals.

A United Front:

So, you know the problem, the solution is simple, and the impact is real and effective. It’s not just about raising money. It is about presenting a united front, building a community of supporters that has said enough is enough. We will end gender inequality, and we will do it for the most at-risk communities on earth. The marginalized, the women, and the indigenous peoples of our planet

The 3 P’s of Our Textile Work
For us, it’s not just about income. When we found communal business groups we focus on capacity building, financial management, and increasing efficiency in decision making. These groups and cooperatives act as problem solving platforms and bring members of the community together to solve local issues, and, if necessary, allocate funds that they have created to mitigate these problems. We are careful to call ourselves a poverty alleviation organization, rather we like to think of ourselves as “capacity-building problem-solvers.”


We work with indigenous women to create natural dye gardens. When indigenous women use natural dyes in their product they increase the quality and bring 5X the price. As we have previously discussed when a women sells a product she returns a small amount of her profit to a revolving fund which is used to bring financial stability to the community (e.g. loans for education, healthcare, business development). 5X the price mean 5X the revolving fund, which means 5X the impact. Not only does this have impact for local communities, but we focus on converting degraded lands into gardens, therefore, contributing to the reforestation of our planet.


We respect the weavers above all else. If you investigate other textile programs in Southeast Asia, you find a common thread. Pure economic development. Take Threads of Life, the most famous revitalization program in Indonesia, the Dayak community has kicked them out of Borneo. Threads of Life forces women to create products that are popular among consumers, and, in this way take away all the cultural value of the textiles. They mark-up products by 300% and given women requested motifs, dimensions, colors and more. We have never done that and will never do that. The weavers chose their designs, their colors, and their motifs. Dayak women will often be buried with their most favorite products, if a women creates a product and does not want to sell it to the cooperative, no problem with us! It is her right, and will always be her right. Rather we act as a leveraging unit. The weaving cooperative is already self-sufficient, can receive their own funding (and often does), and acts as a platform for the Dayak people to solve issues in their communities. We act as an accelerator and resource to help them gain access to donors. We are helping them develop an international website to connect them with international buyers. They spoke with us about the need of natural dye gardens and now we are working with UN Women to provide them with that very thing. It is not all about profit, it is about empowering women through building local cultural identity, and the mechanism for that is through textiles, art works, and apparel.

Figure 1: The overall objectives tree and supporting activities for Planet Indonesia’s programs and model.

Adam Miller, Executive Director and Founder, Planet Indonesia International. Adam Miller is the director of our international branch. From the time Adam was just a young child he has been fascinated by the world around him. He was first exposed to avian conservation issues in Indonesia when he was 10 years old. Since then he has dedicated his life to the conservation and development of this region of the world.

He graduated with honors from the department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University. Through his undergraduate career he worked on a number of research projects throughout the United States, Central America, and Australia. After graduation he was selected for the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship through the U.S. State Department to Indonesia in 2013. He has published a number of articles in collaboration with some of the top scientists in conservation biology and is dedicated to advancing the field of conservation both as a practitioner and as a researcher. His work has lead him around the globe, but Indonesia has been near to his heart since the time he was just a child. He is dedicated to finding innovative win-win solutions that benefit both humans and the environment through economic feasibility and sustainability. Without innovative multidisciplinary approaches to the issues we face today humans fall out of balance with the world around them. Adam believes Planet Indonesia is a platform for social innovation that is utilizing modern models and approaches that have the ability to restore balance and harmony to the world around us. 

Ultimately, Adam is a strong activist for change in the field of conservation science, and is dedicated to creating innovative outcomes that are more feasible and applicable to multiple stakeholders. For more information please his visit his website.
Novia Sagita, Managing Director and CoFounder, Yayasan Planet Indonesia. Novia is the director of our Indonesian branch. She has been working in not-for-profits for over 20 years and is a native of the region. Her career has been marked by a steady increase in accomplishments, with some of her most notable being a fellowship through the Ford Foundation and the creation of her very own museum in the Sintang district in West Kalimantan. Novi first introduced Adam to the idea of empowering indigenous women through the sound economic development with material culture projects. She has lived amongst the Dayak women of West Borneo for nearly 15 years and is known throughout Southeast Asia for her work in preserving Indonesia’s most unique textiles.

Bapak Hasbi: Program Manager Economic Development. Bapak Hasbi has over 10 years of experience working for NGOs. His work has been focused on using agricultural practices and business models to increase local livelihoods while conserving natural resources. He has a degree in agriculture from Indonesia’s top University, University of Gajah Mada where he received a full scholarship. In addition to working for a variety of NGOs he has worked with top researchers to investigate the interaction between crops, pesticides, and pests in Indonesia.

Desnawaty Deccy, Program Manager Conservation and CoFounder, Yayasan Planet Indonesia. Desnawaty is also a native to the region and has been working for the World Wildlife Fund for several years. She is familiar with the region and she was born in a rural village near the interior. Desnawaty will be responsible for collecting data in the field and compiling reports. She will work closely with the rest of the team and oversee field assistants in the data collection process.

Abroorza: Program Manager Communications and Outreach, Yayasan Planet Indonesia. Abroorza is also a native to the region and has been working with World Wildlife Fund for four years. Although still in his mid-twenties he has already published three books and countless articles. He will be responsible for documenting our process and will work closely with Desnawaty in writing reports and pieces for our blog, newsletter, and social media platforms. Throughout the program Abroorza also acts as a photographer and is in-charge of keeping accurate reports and documentation of our efforts.

Dr. John Berton Harris [consultant]. Dr. Harris is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. He has been working in Indonesia for over 10 years and is a world renowned expert on issues facing Southeast Asia’s avian species. His current work has focused on understanding the impacts of the bird trade in Sumatra and Java. Dr. Harris acts as an advisor and has aided in the design and methodology of our bird related programs. He will also be in-charge of data analysis and working with our team to generate publications for the scientific literature. Ultimately, his role is to advise our team on the scientific side of our project making sure our methodology is both defendable and replicable from a researchers’ perspective.
Indonesian Board of Directors: Dr. Siti Kartikawati and Elly Mufli: Dr. Siti and Ibu Elly are local professors at the Universitas Tanjungpura. They are also currently the board members for our national Indonesian based branch. They have been responsible for obtaining all the necessary research permits related to this project. Although they are new to avian conservation issues, both are active in the fields of economic development and conservation. Through this project they are hoping to get local University students involved in future stages, as the University is hoping to better connect its students with international researcher.
United State Board of Directors: Natalie Meyer, Elizabeth Kennedy, and Dylan Kitts. Our U.S. board brings a variety of skills to the table. Natalie Meyer is a specialists in community-based forestry and helps us to design our conservation programs through her work at University of Minnesota. Elizabeth Kennedy is a UN advisor for the Independent Diplomat in New York, a unique non-profit that provides legislative and diplomacy advice to under-represented nations. Finally, Dylan Kitts if a community and field organizer for the organization Green Corps. He has worked on campaigns throughout the U.S.A. related to GMOs, sustainable fisheries, carbon taxing, and carbon banking. Together with our Indonesian board members these directors bring a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to our organization that mirrors the multi-disciplinary nature that is central to our approach and model.

Since the Indonesian branch became active in December 2014 (a few months after our U.S. Branch was 501(c)3 certified) Adam Miller has raised over $100,000 for the activities at Planet Indonesia. Moreover, the staff at Planet Indonesia has won awards with Fulbright, American Institute for Indonesian Studies, Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative, and the Coady International Institute for Women. The organization itself recently won the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund a grant competition only open to alumni of the United States most prestigious international exchange program, the Fulbright Award. Nearly 800 different proposals were submitted by alumni around the globe and Adam Miller in collaboration with other alumni won the award for Planet Indonesia. We have also been listed as a top 9 new charity through UN Women Project Inspire for our work with textiles and indigenous empowerment.
Although the organization is young it is quickly becoming one of the most well-known and recognized organizations in the area. In addition to private donors, Planet Indonesia is receiving funding from the U.S. State Department ($25,000), Conservation Food Health Network ($17,000), The First Peoples WorldWide ($5,000), and the Franciscan Sisters of Mary ($25,000). Moreover, the organization is partnered with the world’s top International Development Master’s Program (George Washington University) and currently receives interns from their program. To date we have received over $8,000 through in-kind donation of unpaid volunteers.
The Impact is in the Numbers:
50 Villagers Training in Agroforestry Business Development

100 University Students training in Climate Change Leadership Program

1500 Indigenous Women Empowered through art development

200 Bird Species Monitored in the Wild

8 Major cities targeted for animal market monitoring

2000 hectares with beginning phases of tree plantings

60 fishermen trained in sustainable business development

35 Weavers training in new product development through weaving workshops

300 High schools joined environmental leadership program

14000 animals counted and identified in markets across west Borneo

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