Malang, East Java (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Social Affairs is strengthening its Nusantara Economic Heroes (PENA) program, which is aimed at eradicating poverty in the country.

The PENA program has been designed to empower the community through the provision of business capital.

The program aims to encourage the poor and vulnerable people to start their businesses so that they are not reliant on social assistance, Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini said here on Friday.

"Through the PENA program, we invite the community to become entrepreneurs. In one to two months, we will see the acceleration. However, on average, they already have the courage to leave (their status) as assistance beneficiaries," she added.

According to her, the majority of PENA program beneficiaries are young people who have the potential to develop businesses that would make them more productive and independent.

Rismaharini admitted that the PENA program had faced challenges in terms of funding. However, the program has now received support from a number of parties, such as Bank Indonesia (BI) and the House of Representatives (DPR), for capital assistance.

She expressed the hope that the program would help accelerate the process of the poor and vulnerable gaining independence, which, in the end, would help them lead a better life and get more income.

"We want them to get out (of poverty) as soon as possible so that they can continue to live a better life with better financial capacity," the minister said.

To become PENA beneficiaries, people need to be active social assistance recipients and aged between 20 and 40 years. Beneficiaries of the 2022 Integrated Welfare Houses (RST) and 2021 Uninhabitable Houses (RTLH) programs are being prioritized for the PENA program.

Beneficiaries are not required to have started their business prior to joining the program. The business clusters in the program consist of food and beverage, craft, service and trade, agriculture, and animal husbandry.

In 2022, the number of beneficiaries of the PENA program stood at 5,209: 238 were categorized as extremely poor and 4,971 were categorized as poor.

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Translator: Vicki Febrianto, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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