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With the many roadblocks and barriers to entry, women’s entrepreneurship remains an untapped source of economic growth. According to a recent report by IFC, in Asia Pacific, an increase in the number of women-led businesses can contribute to a staggering growth of US$280 billion in the e-commerce sector by the year 2030. As per a report by McKinsey Global Institute, an additional $4.5 trillion can be added to annual GDP in Asia-Pacific countries by 2025 simply by increasing women’s labor force rate, number of paid hours as well as advancing women’s representation in high-productive sectors that are currently male dominated. In addition to economic growth, more women-owned enterprises also translates to more jobs and upskilling opportunities for women which are key to economic empowerment.
To empower women entrepreneurs and narrow the gender gap in the entrepreneurial sphere, YCAB Ventures, in partnership with Investing in Women, Moonshot Venture, UN Women, UNDP and Citibank, has organised the SheDisrupts Indonesia 2021 – a one-of-a-kind initiative that consists of mentoring, a venture competition, pre-acceleration programme and demo day for social and environmental enterprises.
AVPN sat down with Adelle Odelia Tanuri, Secretary General of the YCAB Foundation, to learn more about the important role of women entrepreneurship in advancing female economic empowerment.
What is one of the greatest obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs in Indonesia and other parts of Asia?
In spite of the global Covid-19 crisis, the economy of Indonesia still stands out as one of the fastest growing in the world. Its main driver are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), almost half of which are owned or led by women. Unfortunately, because of cultural and societal pressures, Indonesian women entrepreneurs face higher barriers in the access of financial support and are more likely to shut down their business for bad operations than men. These asymmetries come at the great expense of the local economy. According to the Asia Foundation, if women entrepreneurs enjoyed the same financial access and productive resources as men, the average worker’s productivity (measured as average output per worker) would increase in Indonesia by up to 11%. Moreover, according to the OECD, women more often act as “lead innovators” when it comes to generating solutions to social and environmental problems.
What are some initiatives of the YCAB Foundation targeted at advancing women’s economic empowerment?
YCAB was founded in 1999 by Veronica Colondam with the vision of breaking the generational poverty cycle through education and economic empowerment. In 2010, YCAB started its women economic empowerment arm with its microfinance program. To date, YCAB has served more than 185,000 women micro-entrepreneurs and mothers. Our microfinance program is unique as the condition to get access to the loan is that the child of the beneficiary must be in school. In this way, YCAB sees education and women’s economic empowerment as two things that must go hand in hand.
In addition to our microfinance, YCAB also focuses on impact investments. In June 2020, YCAB with Moonshot Ventures and Investing in Women launched Indonesian Women Empowerment Fund (IWEF), a $10 million gender-lens fund that focuses on supporting women entrepreneurs or early-stage businesses that serve women. IWEF aims to address barriers to women’s economic empowerment by investing in disruptive tech solutions led by women entrepreneurs.
Tell us more about the startup competition, SheDisrupts Indonesia 2021.
The program was initiated by IWEF (Indonesian Women Empowerment Fund) and Creatella Impact, in partnership with Investing in Women, UNDP, UN Women and Citibank, to empower Indonesian women entrepreneurs to build and scale innovative and tech-driven business solutions to complex social and environmental issues in Indonesia.
The venture competition was the first part of She Disrupts Indonesia 2021 designed to provide founders and co-founders with an essential business and pitching skills toolset, as well as with a platform to showcase their product to an international audience. For the 20 most outstanding participants, the competition represents just the first step of a journey that will take them to an intense 2-weeks pre-acceleration covering business, marketing and financial skills, impact management, digital literacy and gender lens approaches.
What do the creators of SheDisrupts Indonesia 2021 hope to achieve?
SheDisrupts Indonesia was co-created by YCAB Ventures, Moonshot Ventures and Creatella Impact. We believe in the largely untapped economic potential of many female social entrepreneurs and we believe that they can be the powerhouse for the economy of Southeast Asia. Through this program, we wanted to help bridge the financing and knowledge gap and barriers than many women still face in Indonesia. Because of its fully virtual format, we were able to connect participants with seasoned mentors, judges, and facilitators from around the world. SheDisrupts Indonesia 2021 not only provides talented women-led teams with pitch training and skill growth opportunities, but also offers them the chance to access and secure funds from international impact investors.
Are there plans for similar programmes in the future?
SheDisrupts Indonesia is the kick-off edition for the SheDisrupts programmes that will be replicated in the future for women social entrepreneurs in other high-potential emerging countries. For those who are interested in joining future events, please just stay tuned to the social media of YCAB, Moonshot or Creatella Impact.
More information about SheDisrupts Indonesia 2021 can be found here.