I was excited and a little bit nervous to actually meet Morsinah in person, as she was the first borrower I visited in my first week of the fellowship. After an hour-long conversation with her, I found out that we both have a lot in common. She originally is from Indonesia and had her Master’s in Urban Planning from Columbia University. More surprisingly, during her time at Columbia, she spent two years living in International House, New York City, where I now live in. We both also share a passion in traditional Southeast Asian cuisines and drinks, which she is now sharing by introducing Jamu-Earth Drinks and Sambal-Indo-Malay Sauces under her own business brand, Sajen Inc.
Sajen Inc. was first introduced in 2008 after Morsinah lost her job because of the financial crisis. She has turned this crisis into a new opportunity to start something she had always been interested in doing. “My parents used to sell Jamu-Earth Drinks back home in Indonesia and I could see potential growth in health-concious US market segment to introduce the drinks ” Morsinah says. Later in 2011, Sajen Inc. received a travel award from British Airways and the award has allowed her to travel on a business trip to Malaysia where she has tapped her products into its local markets. Today, her products are distributed in local supermarkets both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Malaysia. In the near future, Morshinah is eager to open her very own Jamu Cafe’ in San Francisco where she can share her healthy and delectable Jamu drinks as well as Indo-Malay traditions and cultures.
Previously, Morsinah received a $3,000 loan from Kiva Zip in 2014 and this has allowed her to purchase new packaging materials and to pay for a delivery service in response to higher demand. Her loan was endorsed by the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center Bay View where she found out about Kiva Zip and learned new business strategies and capital management. She also plans to apply for her second loan to help with her business expansion.
Before I left I asked her for her secret ingredient of business success and life in general, and her reply was: There are so many tidal waves we have to encounter in life, sometimes we have to strengthen our sail and go against the wind, many times you have to adjust it along the wind and set the new path---- only our deepest instincts can guide us on what to do ”.