The Bebali Foundation – Yayasan Pecinta Budaya Bebali (YPBB) – is an Indonesian non-profit organization that helps hundreds of weavers who live in remote, under-developed villages turn textiles, crafts, and other expressions of their local cultures into badly needed income in a way that is environmentally sustainable, promotes cultural integrity, and empowers women. Our partners have provided us with a “mandate” of issues that they want addressed, in three general areas: incubating community businesses, managing forests and natural resources, and nurturing traditional culture.

Incubating Community Businesses for the Rural Poor

Promoting investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a real market environment can empower women, get and keep children in school, and improve health by raising incomes and creating skilled jobs. Because these jobs often depend on aspects of culture that are unique and inseparable from their rural location, much of this growth stays in small villages. And because these businesses serve real markets, they sustain themselves without further aid or patronage.

Initiating Community Forest Stewardship and Forest Product Management

Sustainable businesses require sustainable resources. With botanical research and field workshops, YPBB helps communities fully understand the resources they use and develop management plans that preserve their forests and raise their incomes. The growing YPBB herbarium collection forms a buffer against the loss of botanical knowledge in our partner communities. YPBB also facilitates dialogue with local governments in order to formalize community use of non-timber forest products.

Nurturing Aspects of Traditional Culture that Strengthen Contemporary Society

All traditional cultures have aspects that create meaning and opportunity; some have aspects that are at odds with modern society. YPBB works in some communities that are undemocratic, or male-dominated, or discriminate by wealth or caste. It is not for us to dictate cultural change. But we work to help traditional people strengthen the aspects of their culture that they feel are in accord with a prosperous, just, and free society.