Catalyzing economic opportunity with eBay Foundation

Indonesia, February 11, 2015

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  • Mercy Corps is helping small business owners like Syariah, who makes and sells seaweed crackers, expand their businesses. Photo: Andy Dwonch/Mercy Corps

In a small studio attached to her house in the city of Depok, just outside of Jakarta, Syariah mixes the tapioca flour and dried seaweed to make her signature seaweed crackers. After years of barely getting by on the income from her job as a maid, and with three young children to support, Syariah decided she wanted to change her life and start her own business. She attended trainings and workshops on how to start a small business and settled on the seaweed crackers because she knew there would be a natural demand.

Today, she has her own website and ecommerce capability which enables her to offer her products to more lucrative markets. “I used to only sell to small food stalls. Now, I also sell to catering companies. Someone ordered a shipment to Germany now too,” she shared excitedly.

Mercy Corps believes that people have the power to transform their own lives when they have the right resources. With a little help, entrepreneurs and small business owners can grow their business, earn higher incomes and ultimately support their families.

eBay Foundation also believes in the power of the entrepreneur. Through their strategic initiative, The Opportunity Project, they're supporting social innovators with technology-based solutions that connect disadvantaged people with opportunities to become economically independent.


Syariah owns her own business selling seaweed crackers. She recently developed a website for her business with help from Mercy Corps social enterprise, Kolabo, and has been able to sell more crackers and reach more customers by selling online. Photo: Andy Dwonch/Mercy Corps

With a shared commitment to creating economic opportunity, Mercy Corps and eBay Foundation came together in 2013 to help entrepreneurs, like Syariah, expand their businesses and earn higher incomes. In Indonesia, Mercy Corps started a social enterprise called Kolabo which is connecting small business owners with web-based services so that they can sell their goods and services online.

With increasing access to the Internet around the world, Kolabo’s service is one simple yet invaluable way to boost business by making it possible for entrepreneurs to reach more customers and earn a higher income through a website and online marketplace sales.

Today hundreds of small business owners in Indonesia have been connected with the technology and expertise they need to grow their business presence online. A major factor in the success of the program has been Mercy Corps’ partnership with eBay Foundation. Not only was eBay Foundation a founding financial supporter of the program, but eBay employees have also volunteered their time and skills to support the development of technology and mentoring of Kolabo employees.


Syariah mixes the ingredients for her seaweed crackers. Photo: Andy Dwonch/Mercy Corps

This included technical advisory support by members of eBay’s technical team to help Kolabo’s entrepreneurs to link to and sell on popular online Indonesian marketplaces. The partnership shows the powerful impact that is possible when corporate vision and goals align so closely with the work that they are investing in, and when a company is able to bring multiple assets to bear – in this case their time, talent, technology and financial resources – to address a critical social challenges.

Mercy Corps’ partnership with eBay Foundation and eBay employees goes beyond Indonesia. When disaster strikes eBay employees respond with compassion and generosity. eBay Foundation and eBay employees supported Mercy Corps’ emergency response following the spring 2013 earthquake in Sichuan China and after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.

Most recently, eBay Foundation also supported our response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. And outside of emergencies, eBay employees have been supporting Mercy Corps through their employee giving program since 2004 and through eBay GivingWorks, a program that helps sellers list items on eBay that benefit a nonprofit.

We are incredibly grateful to eBay for their multi-dimensional partnership and commitment to tackle poverty and create economic opportunity. We invite you to explore new video experience of our work together in Indonesia, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate to find new and innovative ways to help individuals build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.