Connecting a Papuan mushroom grower with buyers

(Nov. 2022) Growing mushrooms in a few sheds in one’s backyard seems as low-tech as it gets. Yet over time, Frengki Duwith has become a savvy online marketer.

“Only if we see that the mushrooms are plentiful and ripe do we start sending messages out on social media,” Frengki says. “If we post without considering timing, the orders and inquiries come in too fast.” And that can lead to disappointed customers. 

Frengki in a shed where he grows mushrooms

Frengki lives in Sorong, Indonesia. It’s the largest city in the province of Papua, but the total population of the municipality is only about 250,000. He used to be a driver but switched to mushroom farming about five years ago, learning many of the required skills by watching YouTube videos. He really likes it, especially as one of the benefits is working with his wife. Theirs is the oyster mushroom, a large white species, widely used in kitchens worldwide.

Sorong, one of the main cities in Papua

When the mushrooms are ripe, they have to be sold off quickly. Frengki’s house is not near any major road, but it’s not a problem. “We are supported by the power of the Internet and social media,” Frengki says. “When we post online, people living as far away as Jayapura, Manokwari, south Sorong, and even Java contact me and sometimes even visit me.”

As connectivity keeps on improving in remote parts of Indonesia like Papua, it opens up new opportunities. Frengki is not only a beneficiary of the changes taking place, he’s also teaching others about entrepreneurship through a local NGO he co-founded, Papua Muda Inspiratif.

Frengki (left, with shorter hair and no beard now) talks with a potential buyer

“We want to serve as role models,” Frengki says. “We are determined to help motivate others to become entrepreneurs.”

Connectivity is playing a foundational role in fostering development throughout Indonesia. The national government has a policy to provide everyone in the vast archipelago of 17,500 islands with a decent connection, no matter where they live. Huawei is working hard with its local partners to make that ambitious vision become reality.

Huawei has developed a wide range of products, technologies, and knowhow to provide connectivity for the tens of millions of people around the world who are still unconnected. This includes low-cost antennas; solar power, batteries, and energy-management systems; and a vast range of microwave links that can reach isolated communities.

Oyster mushroom before harvest

The solutions can be basic and highly affordable, or more sophisticated, depending on local needs. Huawei’s highly economical RuralStar solution represents a complete rethink of base station design. RuralStar is made up of robust but simple telecommunications components. The kit requires so little energy to operate that a few solar panels are enough. More complex “Butterfly Sites” are set up on taller antenna poles. They typically can provide network coverage over several frequency bands and can serve a wider territory because of their height.

Watch Frengki’s story below. And for more about Huawei's efforts to Connect the Unconnected, see our event of Nov. 23 2022 Sustainability event Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact