The local tradition of arisan gets supercharged with its own digital platform. (Photo courtesy of Arisan Mapan)

Digital Arisan Helps 2.5m Indonesians Fund Their Dreams

APRIL 12, 2019

Jakarta. More than 2.5 million people in nearly 20,000 villages in Java and Bali have tapped online arisan, or peer-to-peer lending in close-knit communities, since 2009 through a platform provided by local financial technology company Mapan. 

The service, known as Arisan Mapan, allows users to buy big-ticket electronics, such as domestic appliances and laptop computers, or fund family emergencies using small installments with zero percent interest rates.

The service does this by emulating the local tradition of arisan, which involves members of families or community groups pooling small amounts of money on a regular basis. They then pay out all the money pooled over the period to a member deemed most in need, or to a member determined by a lottery.  

"Arisan has become an important part of Indonesian culture. We find that many Indonesians use arisan to plan [or save] for their future endeavors," said Hendra Tjanaka, chief executive of Mapan.

Arisan Mapan took the traditional system online, opening more opportunities for such groups. People living in rural areas are generally not exposed to the same opportunities as their urban counterparts, such as online shopping, for example. At the same time, Arisan Mapan also educates people on how to utilize technology in their everyday lives.

"Arisan Mapan facilitates this planning through technology. Now the community can rely on the Arisan Mapan application to achieve quality and affordable living, ranging from household appliances, the needs of newlyweds, family and children, and the funds needed to start a business," Hendra said.

To spread the service in communities, Mapan has been relying on 200,000 community leaders, some of whom shared their stories during Mapan's #KartiniJuara campaign

One of them is Risyanti Dewi, a housewife from Depok, West Java, who, since joining Arisan Mapan in 2016, has recruited more than 300 members from her village just by using her mobile phone.

"I was touched to see the reaction of members who were so happy when they were able to satisfy their household needs through Arisan Mapan, especially tools that were difficult to buy," Risyanti explains.

With her work, Risyanti has helped her community thrive through technology, making an impact in her direct environment. 

"One of my members works as a meatball seller and he participates in arisan to save money to buy a laptop for his son's studies. It is his dream to provide the best he can afford for his child, so his son can keep up with the fast-paced digital world," Risyanti said.