Thirty years ago, Novia’s family faced a dilemma. Her parents wanted to improve their economic situation, but it was hard to find permanent work in their hometown of, Jombang, in East Java.
In 1990, Novia's family was offered the chance to join the government's Plasma Transmigration Program (Perkebunan Inti Rakyat, also known as PIR-Trans), and migrate to Pelalawan, Riau, to run an oil palm plantation. Through this program, the Indonesian government encouraged cooperation between oil palm smallholders and oil palm plantation companies, such as Asian Agri.
“I was only three years old when I migrated to Riau, but my father once told me that this program has promising prospects,” said Novia.
“Because he aspires to change fate for the better, we moved to Riau and immediately partnered with Asian Agri.”
Initially, Novia and her family received two hectares of land which was used as an oil palm plantation and a place to live. As the business grew, her family's oil palm plantations expanded, and they hired local workers to help.
“Now our life is very sufficient. My parents can pay for my sister and me to attend college. We are also grateful to be able to help the family back in Java,” said Novia, who holds a Communication Degree from Darul Ulum Jombang University.
Apart from managing their oil palm plantations, Novia and her family also have a small gas station business that started in 2017 in order to prepare for the replanting period. “Our oil palm plantations have been registered for replanting and are scheduled for early 2022. This business is also one of our preparations in facing replanting so that our income is not disrupted during the waiting period,” said Novia.
While looking for a business idea they realized that, although most households had two motorbikes, the nearest gas station was quite far from their village.
“The nearest gas station here is three to four kilometers away, so residents here prefer to buy retail gasoline to save time. That's where my father and I thought of starting this mini gas station business," she said.
Novia is able to sell as much as 200 litres a day, generating an income of IDR45 million (around US$3,100) per month.
"Since this business was initiated, the turnover is now greater than the initial capital," said Novia with a laugh.
It also enables them to serve the local community, she said. “We are happy to be able to help the surrounding village communities, because now they can buy fuel oil according to their ability. For example, there are residents who only have IDR5,000 in cash but want to buy fuel, we will continue to serve,” said Novia.