Supporting Women Entrepreneurs


Do women face more difficulties in self-employment and business-ownership than men do?  Research indicates that globally, there are more barriers to entry for women in terms of starting a business.  In Indonesia, specifically, women have more difficulty starting new businesses and women are also more likely to start very small businesses (micro) that are less secure. There are two significant barriers that women entrepreneurs face:

  • Systemic and unconscious biases embedded within the start-up and entrepreneurial eco-system
  • The above is paired with social and cultural norms that position women as the primary parent.  Women have historically been faced with barriers to career advancement as a result of their gendered roles in family planning

Unconscious Bias

PICTURE 1As explained by Dr. Sarah Saska, unconscious bias refers to the information, attitudes, and stereotypes that inform our subconscious and dictate the process by which we take these mental shortcuts. Unconscious bias is a nexus of attitudes, stereotypes, and cultural norms that we have about different types of people. Therefore, embedding diversity and inclusion strategies into your small business planning (such as hiring and promoting women entrepreneurs) will mean your business will have a better chance of succeeding long-term (Phillips, 2016). Companies that understand their unconscious bias are:

  • More innovative
  • Smarter
  • Better decision makers
  • Solve problems more effectively
  • Understand the needs of a diverse & global customer base

When it comes to hiring talent, how can you work to ensure that you’re hiring diverse talent?

  1. Slow down your decision making
  2. Recognize what you currently have
  3. Consider what is missing
  4. Strive to make it better


  • Limit job descriptions to “must-have” qualities
  • Revamp the language in job descriptions for greater inclusivity
  • Remove names and other identity signifiers from job applications
  • Standardize job interview questions

Women Entrepreneurs in Indonesia

women1In November 2017 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a report funded by the Government of Canada entitled Women’s Entrepreneurship and Access to Finance: Challenges and Opportunities of Women-led Social Enterprises in Indonesia. The report found that too many women-led enterprises face daunting challenges, including restricted access to loans and discrimination.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in East Java, Indonesia

Business environment for women in Indonesia

Business Opportunities for Women in Indonesia

Female Business Owners Defying Barriers in Indonesia


Opportunities, Approaches, and Initiatives

Toolkits to help businesses tackle unconscious bias:

Resources for Women in Indonesia

Success Stories in Indonesia

Other examples listed by Herwinto C. Sutantyo in

Nadine Freischlad also posted online a list of female entrepreneurs in Indonesia who smashed the glass ceiling:

  1. Aulia Halimatussadiah - Nulisbuku
  2. Catherine Hindra Sutjahyo - Zalora
  3. Cynthia Tenggara - Berrykitchen
  4. Claudia Widjaya - BerryBenka
  5. Yenti Elizabeth - BerryBenka
  6. Diajeng Lestari - HijUp
  7. Donna Lesmana - Lolalola
  8. Grace Tahir - PilihDokter
  9. Hanifa Ambadar - Female Daily
  10. Nabilah Alsagoff - Doku
  11. Veronika Linardi - Qerja

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