Understanding the Landscape for Women Social Entrepreneurs in Indonesia


September 26, 2017

Financial illiteracy, lack of support network, and low uptake of Government-support trainings are one of the few financial hurdles for women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. To this end, one of the options which were raised was on incubation programs as an effective way to tackle business knowledge-related issues. AVPN, with the support of Sasakawa Peace Foundation organised a discussion and lunch in Jakarta, Indonesia in order to map out the reasons behind gender discrepancies, and identify the next steps to address these gaps.

Moderated by AVPN CEO, Naina Batra, the panelists at the recent Luncheon on Women Entrepreneurship in Jakarta shared their experiences from an Indonesian context, which was reflective of the findings from AVPN’s research in the ASEAN region. Speakers on this panel included:

Lack of formal networks and communities

As a women entrepreneur, Laras shared her experience starting a new business. Laras related how she went to start-up scene events to forge her own connections and acquire market knowledge. It was not until she was later admitted to Singapore International Foundation’s YSE program that she started learning about the different kinds of capital sources and support programs available. Romy mentioned that there is a lack of good and well-known role models for female entrepreneurs in Indonesia, which Laras resonated with. Since her early start up days, Laras no longer has difficulty finding access to capital as she receives support and assistance from a business mentor.

On the other end, Patamar Capital found it difficult to gain access to a ready pool of SPOs to leverage on their Investing in Women fund. ”Cities outside of Java are not as up to speed as Jakarta,” says Ellen Nio, “This made location a constraint.” It wasn’t until Patamar reached out to partner companies active in the local cities outside of Java to refer enterprises that they received 150 registrations for their fund.

Cultural expectations of women entrepreneurs in Indonesia

Another pertinent issue raised was the family expectations of women entrepreneurs, either through parents or, if they are married, husbands. “It was harder to convince her parents than investors in the market,” Laras commented, tongue-in-cheek. The general consensus was that gender stereotypes were still entrenched in society, and women were perceived as “less able than men.” Traits generally expected of women such as being soft-spoken is a trait that was noted as ‘not leadership-like’ in venture capital standards. Chrisma added that it took a policy amendment to allow wives to take loans as an individual; Previously, they had to receive their husband’s permission in order to be eligible for one.

Incubation and acceleration as mentorship programs

The discussion then went on to say that women’s lack of access to finance as the singular source of problem for women entrepreneurs, is inaccurate. Instead, the most pressing issue is mentorship – provided through incubation and acceleration programs. To address this, Patamar’s 150 registered enterprises for their Investing in Women fund will also go through their acceleration program to become scalable and investible. The issue that Ellen and Romy brought forward was, instead of a lack of women funds, it is the small pipeline of female-owned and female-beneficiary businesses that social investors can invest in.

Wrapping up the discussion panel, Naina indicated that AVPN would like to keep the conversation on how social investors and resource providers can help support the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs to thrive in Asia going.

To learn more about AVPN’s study on effective incubation program models and how it can help businesses grow, read our Effective Social Incubation report here. To read about AVPN’s study on women entrepreneurs and financing and technical support options available in ASEAN member states, read our Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in the ASEAN Economic Community report here.

About Author
Syarif Hamdi
Syarif Hamdi Senior Information Systems Associate AVPN

Syarif joined AVPN in early 2017 as a Senior Information Systems Associate focusing on the Data Management aspect in AVPN.

He is an avid data enthusiast who enjoys discussing case studies and leading brainstorming sessions on database architecture and design. One of his latest change management project was to deliver new sets of operational excellence processes resulting in Productivity Gain of 55% through automation and improved data structure.

He was also previously based in Jakarta as AVPN’s Indonesia Representative, and as such has built a strong network with key players in the social sector that are both based in-and-outside of Indonesia.

In his spare time, Syarif looks for volunteering opportunities in education or data initiatives across the region. He is particularly passionate about developing and sharing knowledge among disenfranchised communities, believing that this practice can create a large-scale ripple effect of sustainability and welfare.