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Programme Digitally Empowers Women Entrepreneurs in Indonesia

The global economic impact has driven entrepreneurship with many women launching home-based businesses. That being said, the difficult economic environment and social distancing restrictions have had a negative impact on sales. Without a doubt, more tech skills are an entrepreneur’s best tool to develop their business to survive and thrive in these uncertain times.

An Indonesia-UK Tech Hub collaborated with a digital supply chain platform for Crafts Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection to launch a women-based programme. The programme is designed to provide digital literacy and entrepreneurship training to support women-owned ultra-micro and micro businesses. The programme also serves as COVID-19 crisis response support for women and under-represented groups who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Of the 370 applicants, 102 were chosen to participate in the training programme, which was delivered from November 2020 to this year, including launch and graduation events. To ensure that as many marginalised women as possible were empowered, 56 women were kept on a reserve list to allow for any dropouts, and all of them were eventually fully included in the training programme, bringing the total number to 158.

Training was delivered virtually, with the support of local facilitators in each of Indonesia’s 6 targeted districts namely, Central Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Rembang and Kendal in Central Java, Central Bangka in Bangka Belitung, Cilegon in Banten and Palembang in South Sumatra.

The women-based programme consisted of 8 training modules that addressed supply chain, digital literacy, digital marketing, the use of apps, market access in partnership with local marketplace, and financial literacy (in partnership with BTPN Syariah Bank) among other topics.

The United Kingdom government collaboration could share its experience and expertise in the digital and technology sector as England is the home to more than 600,000 digital start-ups and also the birth of some of the most successful and famous unicorns in the world.

OpenGov Asia reported in an article that the Ministry of Communication and Informatics is targeting digital literacy to reach all districts and cities in Indonesia by 2024. The Directorate General of Informatics Applications of the Ministry of Communication and Information is working with related partners.

“By 2024, the ministry and its partners will carry out digital literacy in all 514 districts/cities in Indonesia,” explained Plt. Director of Informatics Empowerment of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Mariam Fatimah Barata in the Digital Literacy Webinar Towards Indonesia Digital Nation.

Mariam acknowledged that the use of the internet is currently so massive that it cannot be separated from everyday life. Therefore, digital literacy plays an important role in the journey towards the Indonesia Digital Nation.  In terms of the number, the goal is to have 50 million literate Indonesians. Going in a phase-wise manner, they plan to reach the first 12.5 million people by 2021.

Women have played a prominent role in the digital era, as evidenced by the growing number of female entrepreneurs in the past 3 years. According to IWAPI (Ikatan Wanita Pengusaha – Indonesia’s premier association of women’s enterprises), in 2015, women represented 60% of the total 49.9m entrepreneurs in Indonesia – that number continues to grow by 20% annually.

Therefore, personal initiative skills development is important for women. Nevertheless, exposure to male-dominated industries is also important. Another article said that implementing this provides an opportunity to find women in growth sectors and tell their stories, allowing women to see themselves in those shoes.

Focusing on these sectors also limits financial opportunities, as banks see these businesses as less of a risk to invest in. Grown explained that SMEs were particularly important because they play a significant role in job creation in all economies around the world. Thus, encouraging more women to own SMEs increases job prospects.

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