Sewing Empowerment and Sustainability: Rappo Indonesia’s Impact on Gender Equality and the Environment

Rappo Indonesia
At the heart of this initiative lies Rappo’s “Impact Center.” It is more than just a space; it’s a crucible of transformation.
In the vibrant heart of Makassar City, a beacon of innovation emerges, seamlessly intertwining two urgent global concerns: gender equality and environmental sustainability. Allow us to introduce Rappo Indonesia, the brainchild of Akmal Idrus, a social enterprise breathing new life into discarded plastic grocery bags, transforming them into fashion-forward bag products while simultaneously providing women, particularly from coastal regions, a platform to flourish and thrive.


Rooted in the palpable disparities in gender-based employment opportunities, exacerbated by the wrenching economic shifts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rappo Indonesia stands as a response to two poignant questions: How can we empower women, and how can we counter the mounting environmental impact of plastic waste, particularly in Indonesia, one of the world’s significant contributors?
Akmal Idrus - Speaker BSI
Akmal Idrus - Speaker BSI (image : Rappo Indonesia)

In reality, women's access to work is still limited compared to men's. During the Covid-19 pandemic, widespread layoffs were conducted by companies, and unfortunately, it was women who bore the brunt of this impact. The underlying reason lies in the fact that many companies, including established businesses, had historically assigned women to roles that were deemed less essential. As a result, when events like layoffs occur, women are disproportionately affected by the repercussions

The testament to the enterprise’s dedication lies in its meticulous production process. Carefully sourced discarded plastic grocery bags, cleaned and processed, are ingeniously sewing with premium materials like metal zippers and durable fabrics such as canvas or cotton. The outcome isn’t merely a fashion statement; these products carry a narrative of sustainability and empowerment.
Beneficiaries in Depok Ibu Yuyun

Makassar and Depok Rappo Impact Centers: Fostering Empowerment and Breaking Cycles

At the heart of this initiative lies Rappo’s “Impact Center.” Situated in coastal regions, it is more than just a space; it’s a crucible of transformation. Here, women undergo sewing training, refine their skills, and receive a comprehensive education spanning environmental awareness and socio-political subjects. Idris’s vision extends far beyond immediate economic enhancement; he envisions women assuming leadership roles, becoming pivotal figures in society, actively contributing to community-building and decision-making.
Rappo Indonesia’s dual Impact Centers in Makassar and Depok exemplify the organization’s commitment to tackling gender inequality and waste management hand in hand. These centers symbolize hope, especially for women who have faced limited educational and employment prospects in coastal communities. Through skill development, sewing training, and environmental education, Rappo empowers women to become catalysts for change within their communities.
Waste Management in Depok
Waste Management in Depok (image : Rappo Indonesia)
In Depok, Rappo Indonesia’s Impact Center adopts a holistic approach to address both gender inequality and stunting issues. The detrimental effects of stunting, often exacerbated by gender disparities, can impede a child’s potential and perpetuate cycles of inequality. In Depok, Rappo becomes an agent of transformation, equipping women with the tools to overcome societal barriers. Furthermore, the center offers education on nutrition and child health, effectively breaking the cycle of stunting and advancing gender equality.

Collaboration and Conversation: Rappo’s Impact Beyond Its Products

Rappo’s journey is far from solitary. The enterprise has cultivated significant collaborations, ranging from corporate giants to grassroots non-governmental organizations. These partnerships amplify Rappo’s reach, ensuring its products grace storefronts from Bali to Jakarta, and its empowering narrative resonates through seminars and exhibitions.
While its innovative plastic waste management approach and commitment to women’s empowerment are impressive, Rappo Indonesia’s dedication to sparking conversations sets it apart. Through robust social media campaigns and participation in exhibitions across the archipelago, Rappo brings not only its distinctive products to the forefront but also the interconnected issues of gender equality and environmental conservation.
Rappo's product
Rappo's product (image : Rappo Indonesia)
While Akmal Idrus’ efforts have already earned recognition, as evidenced by Rappo Indonesia’s commendable fourth-place ranking in a business competition organized by LPDP. This industry acknowledgment provides them with opportunities for learning and positions them on a global stage, reflecting the universal impact of their dual mission.
In a world grappling with diverse challenges, Rappo Indonesia stands as a testament to the transformative potential when innovation aligns with purpose. Through each meticulously crafted bag and every empowered woman, the enterprise weaves a narrative in which environmental awareness and gender equality are not at odds, but beautifully intertwined.