This profile was prepared when Agung Alit was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Departing from popular opinion in the citizen sector in Indonesia, Alit sees that markets are the most effective way to transform the lives of exploited crafts producers in rural villages. Alit is introducing fair trade, a concept gaining international currency, to craftspeople in Bali through innovative community development programs.His Foundation of Balinese Partners has created a workable business model for small-scale crafts producers, which addresses both their everyday problems and weak position in the tourism industry. Because it empowers small producers to become independent producers, the model can be broadly applied, not just to craftspeople and not just in Bali. Alit, who makes transparency a priority, bridges the economic gap for small producers by opening access to market information and providing skills for them to become competitive. His work has several distinctive characteristics: the focus on the entire economic chain; skills training in design, quality control, business organization, and marketing; attention to lowering dependence on tourism by moving from souvenirs to more useful crafts; and a savings fund that acts as a mutual "insurance" policy against lean times. The Foundation's approach is to balance business and community. Central to its work is the social awareness program, which is changing attitudes on issues such as tourism land use, natural resource conservation, maintenance of communal traditions, and production sustainability. In this way there can be a paradigm change to truly "fair" business.