Aliet Green won WEConnect International’s 2022 “Rise to the Challenge” Agriculture, Food & Beverage Award, presented by Bayer.
In 2009, Indonesia was the only country to export organic coconut sugar, a healthier alternative sweetener. This gave 23-year-old Lastiana Yuliandari, a native of Yogyakarta, an idea. Rather than pursue a career as an English teacher, she changed course and founded Aliet Green—an organic coconut sugar manufacturing and trading company—by acting solely as a pure trader, purchasing and procuring the product.
Fast forward 13 years, with Lastiana as director, Aliet Green produces more than 2,500 tons of organic coconut sugar a year. The company also offers customers numerous other organic, natural food products like spices, tropical fruits, aminos and syrups—all fair-trade certified and free from any preservatives and artificial additives.
She’s never felt more fulfilled.
“I wanted to give back to my community—a community full of thousands of small-scale farms,” explains Lastiana. “I wanted to help drive the rural economies around me and create business for smaller farmers with the hopes of making a positive difference in their lives.”
Lastiana also knew that Aliet Green could do more for the health of both people and the planet. Farmers could implement sustainable practices in big and small ways with respect to soil, climate, biodiversity and water. Thus, in 2012 she pursued a fair-trade certification—the first of the organic coconut sugar industry—providing customers with an international stamp of approval.
One year later, Aliet Green successfully pioneered the first Organic and Fair-Trade Coconut Sugar in the world. As sales grew, so did her goals: Lastiana bought land and Aliet Green became not just a trader, but also a processer of Indonesian organic coconut sugar.
Lastiana notes that sustainable agricultural practices can also incorporate benefits to the economy and society—particularly women.
“I am a firm believer in ‘sustainable girl power’,” she says with a big smile. “I like to work with women. I have found that women are more active and careful with their businesses. They do not give up as easily when faced with challenges.”
As Aliet Green grew, it began to gain recognition for being a woman’s social enterprise. More and more women joined the company, attracted to the promotion of gender equality in the male-dominated agricultural sector.
Today Aliet Green boasts a state-of-the-art processing facility with custom tools and machinery that employs 130 workers, most of whom are women from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as single mothers, widows and returned migrant workers. The company also works with more than 1,500 individual small family farms, 90% of which are run by women.
As Lastiana focuses on elevating the role of women in existing business and agricultural society, she fulfills UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
In 2019, Aliet Green became a certified woman-owned business with WEConnect International to join a group of like-minded women. Lastiana hopes that this network will connect her with member buyers who care about organic, sustainable food sourcing and believe, like she does, that regenerative agriculture is better for the health of people and the planet.
“Our customers want much more than we have the capacity to produce,” says Lastiana. To meet this growing demand, Aliet Green is in the process of expanding current operations with the aim of supporting more than 3,000 farmers by 2030 with an emphasis on vulnerable groups.