Indonesia, Asia

IDN01 - Bluebird Group - Micro-funding and Development: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: November 11, 2020

Update Received from Bluebird Group

This report is a summary of four recently received reports which contain a huge amount of detailed information. 


Recent Events

Multiplication Evaluation: October 2019 - September 2020

There are now 350,678 Believers in groups, a 32% increase in 12 months. This is half the historical average of an annual 65% increase. Growth has been slower due to the restrictions of COVID and COVID deaths. It will likely decrease below 20% if COVID conditions continue. Bluebird do not feel they can focus on increasing grass-roots group multiplication without increasing COVID risk. 

There are now 63,638 Believer groups. JW, one of the leaders, has seen an increase of 146% as he passed 20,000 groups he is overseeing. There are 38,208 Small Group Leaders, 3,861 Cluster Leaders, and 270 Small and Wide Region Leaders.  This 80% increase in Small Group Leaders reported is an after effect of a 73% increase in Cluster Leaders identified, which is a priority.  


COVID Response

Over the last six months, 546 Indonesians died with COVID symptoms in Bluebird’s network of Believer groups. This includes many Small Group Leaders and Cluster Leaders. Bluebird’s 16 primary Indonesian movement Catalysts have experienced much grief. They have been helping the leadership networks under their oversight respectively, to replace these fallen leaders. These 16 oversee ministry in every province in Indonesia, and through reports become aware of areas more troubled by COVID conditions. Though there is great concern for COVID illness, a greater concern is the number of people without income or with income below minimum living costs.

The following outcomes were accomplished by Bluebird’s leadership network, for those who lost jobs or income due to COVID. Needy volunteer leaders were prioritized.   
- 21,935 families received packets of raw food. This is a monthly average of 3,655, with some repeated
- 2,359 job or income starts / restarts. Most have occurred in the last three months. 
- 159 no-interest microloans received in groups.
- 752 online beneficiaries.  Teachers, learners, and leaders were trained in online skills. Selected families received inexpensive telephones, phone minutes, or Wi-Fi costs. COVID conditions hit poorer families very hard, as without online facilities, their children’s schooling stopped. Recently they have returned to school with half the children at school on any one day. Without online facilities, students are destined to fail. 
- 626 beneficiaries received help with grief costs or medical costs.  

Bluebird spent USD$133,500 on these programs, a $22,235 monthly average, with 18% supplied by Indonesian donors, and the remainder from other countries. 


Job Restarts

Beginning in late August, reports of a significant increase in job starts in the networks of Small Believer Groups was enheartening, in spite of conditions where COVID illness and deaths are increasing. In these months 2,359 jobs were started through:

Job referrals
The web of leaders refer sellers to users or skills to those who need them. Through Catalyst ‘Paul’ alone, 413 jobs were provided on construction projects, and 217 people found farm laborers jobs.  This pattern was echoed by many of the Catalysts.  Catalyst ‘Wan’ connected sellers of raw ocean salt to buyers in their network of Small Believer Groups. Both get better prices now and more consistency.  

Farmers’ restarts
When markets were closed by the government due to COVID and people lost their jobs, many farmers were not able to sell their produce. The “Food for the Hungry” program bought in bulk, entire truckloads. This kept farmers solvent and able to replant.  Vegetables bought in bulk are cheaper, and Bluebird cut out middle-men costs by using the leaders’ networks to deliver to volunteer’s garages where food was packaged for delivery on motorcycles by young men. 

457 people farmed several plots of rented, unused land to raise their own vegetables and sell any surplus. Fishermen who raise fish in cages in lakes have been helped with some of their costs and been able to start again. Farmers have been helped to build ‘sprout houses’ to sell sprouts because many people are planting any small pieces of land they have, to be able to eat.  

Cooperative businesses 
In one Believer group, 24 sets of 7 believing families each were formed to help each other face their COVID challenges. Through much discussion, one set of cooperative businesses was started which in the first month provided income for 19 women. Some women cook hot meals, some market them online, and some deliver them. Now this set of linked groups have expanded their cooperative businesses and added other cooperative businesses, providing income for 288 families.  

‘Andi’ helped a set of cooperative businesses produce income for 187 people; some sell soybeans they grow, some deliver soybeans, 87 make soy bean milk, 29 sell it from small shops in their garages, 6 sell it online, and professionals in their believer network buy their products to support them.  

Ten fishermen who couldn’t sell their fish because markets are closed, were helped by some of Bluebird’s professionals to buy coolers for their motorcycles, and market their fish to other believers in the network. Their increased income is used to employ unemployed people to deliver fish.  

Because some of the believers who died travelled to the capital city to find work, ‘Paul’ started a concrete block making business which keeps people at home and spaces out the work areas where they press each block by hand. They trained and employ 21 people. Some sellers and builders committed to buying from them, their good prices for good quality blocks benefitted their businesses too. They also trained many other block makers, who started their own businesses creating other jobs.  

Catalyst ‘Bud’ created and maintains an online shop in which 69 of Bluebird’s believers market the products they make.  

Microloan groups for business
Because personal funds are exhausted, farmers can’t buy seed or fertilizer, small stores can’t restock their shelves, and construction projects can’t buy their materials. Everything stops. Trusted local leaders joined together as microloan group managers and entrusted revolving loan funds to them.  An Islamic bank asked one of their men for his recommendations on loans, which indicates good reputation and trust.  

Income through cooperation
The price of crops fluctuated wildly so farmers have not known if they will make a profit when they sell. One believer negotiated an agreement with big buyers who guaranteed a price for one day to him.  When it is a good price, he calls through Bluebird’s networks to get the word out quickly so farmers can decide if they want to harvest at that guaranteed price. 

Skills training with income
Six women were trained in sewing and now earn income from their neighbours. 72 were trained in welding skills last month. Ten have created and are making and selling plant racks.  

Many women were trained to make and sell COVID masks and hand sterilizer.  

Many men were trained in making backyard fish tanks out of bamboo framed tarps.  Some obtain their families’ protein in this way, while others sell their fish.  

Side income
One of Bluebird’s leaders is the head of a seminary which recruits students from poor areas; all of their families stopped sending money during COVID, yet ‘Jon’ had to feed these 30 students, half of whom lived in his house.  With food funds given, they bought chicks and bamboo for cages, raising chickens in cages stacked several layers high on small balconies of the school for meat to eat.

Due to COVID and fears of infection on public transport, it became very difficult to find a bicycle for sale.  Some believers who recycle bicycles, saved every old bicycle they could find in the dump.  One Catalyst connects the sellers to a man who was trained in welding, and specializes in bringing old bikes back to life, and selling them.  

Because the markets are closed to the public, small carts are pushed around or food is displayed on racks on the backs of motorcycles, and people sell snacks from their garages, and online. Small grants and microloans were granted to set them up.