Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Play a Significant Role in Indonesia

In Focus: Some initiatives & schemes for women entrepreneurs in Indonesia

It is significant that the national policies and strategies developed by the Government of Indonesia reflect broader regional trends that work towards prioritizing small and medium enterprise growth, as a driving force for economic development.

Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role in Indonesia – for they provide employment opportunities and reduce income inequalities, which drive the country’s economy forward and promotes social inclusion, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2018. And, a 2020 World Bank Study reported that SMEs unmet credit needs in developing economies amounted to almost US$ 8.1 trillion, that accounts for around 40 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

At present, most support programs suited for women entrepreneurs are targeted at women-operating in microenterprises and cooperatives. It seems the number of programs aimed at women in SMEs and startups is fairly limited, but a point to note is that a growing number of gender-neutral programs are targeting these growth-oriented businesses. And, the women-friendly programs (either gender inclusive or women- focused) are driven mainly by the private sector.

Here are some schemes and initiatives directed at women entrepreneurs in Indonesia.

> G20 – opportunities for women entrepreneurs

Indonesia is working towards enhancing the role of women entrepreneurs through business inclusion. In fact, this is one of the agendas of the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs in an effort to recover a solid and sustainable economy. Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs Teten Masduki pointed out – “Paying attention to the cross- cutting of women’s issues, the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs is trying to improve equality and welfare through gender-friendly policies, as well as achieving economic inclusion by supporting MSMEs owned and managed by women,” and added that Indonesia has more than 64 million MSMEs that contribute to the national GDP by 60 percent, with 64 percent of them being women. So empowering MSMEs also means empowering women.

> Entrepreneurial Programs

There are more than one hundred entrepreneurial programs offered by various Indonesian government bodies and state-owned corporations every year. However, the majority of these programs are gender-neutral.

A few of the GoI’s programs do appear to be targeted at women entrepreneurs. One example is the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection’s Katumbiri Expo – an annual trade show that aims to expand access to markets for women-owned SMEs. The expo showcases women-owned SMEs’ products in creative-economy sectors such as – crafts, batik, fashion, beauty, culinary and hijab.

The GoI has also partnered with the private sector to organize programs for women entrepreneurs. Together with Google Indonesia, the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs held the Womenwill conference, aimed at introducing women-led SMEs to the benefits of technology for business. The Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology partnered with Facebook to provide women-led SMEs with a free Facebook page and training on marketing strategy and entrepreneurship. Several other programs are not specifically aimed at women entrepreneurs, but rather focus on industries where women are predominant and/or offer services that meet their needs.

> Badan Ekonomi Kreatif (BEKRAF)

Badan Ekonomi Kreatif (BEKRAF) is Indonesia’s creative-economy agency that offers many events and services – to promote and support entrepreneurs in the creative sectors. Their services include capacity-building, access to networks (including investors and mentors), intellectual-property rights-protection facilitation, and grant financing. A number of their 16 priority creative-economy sectors are dominated by women, including culinary, fashion, and arts.


FSI is an annual cohort-based program that supports SMEs in the culinary sector with mentoring and workshops. At the end of the program, 30 shortlisted SMEs make their pitches for funding to judges and investors. BEKRAF provides equity-free funding for the top three winners.

In 2017, the three winners were all women-owned businesses.

BEKRAF also promotes women in ICT through its Coding Mum program, which teaches women how to code, particularly for web development.

The Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs recently launched two mobile applications (apps) for SMEs. The Early Warning System (EWS) app which helps cooperatives and MSMEs diagnose the health of their business performance; and the Centre for Integrated Services (CIS SMESCO) app allows SMEs to consult online with the nearest business-development centre and promote their products on the app. Using mobile apps effectively helps for it addresses the time and mobility constraints faced by women entrepreneurs.

BISMA and Go StartUp Indonesia

BEKRAF has also developed two online initiatives – BISMA and Go StartUp Indonesia. By registering as a member of the Information System on Mobile Application (BISMA), entrepreneurs in the creative sector will get access to BEKRAF’s investor database and current information and events relevant to creative sectors.

Go StartUp Indonesia aims to provide a platform where technology-based entrepreneurs and investors can connect. It also provides entrepreneurship-related information such as – events, mentoring, training activities, and job vacancies. While BISMA is exclusively for those in creative sectors, Go StartUp Indonesia is targeting start-up founders/early-stage entrepreneurs.

The University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, and Bandung Institute of Technology offer a diverse range of entrepreneurship-focused initiatives – including business/entrepreneurship centres, start-up focused activities, and a student entrepreneurship club.

Nusantara University is popularly known for their university start-up-focused accelerator programs – Binus Startup Accelerator and Skystar Ventures. These accelerators provide a number of facilities like – mentoring, direct funding, access to networks and co-working spaces.

> IWAPI (Indonesian Women Entrepreneurs Association)

This association collaborates to encourage women’s MSMEs to forge ahead in the global arena.

The oldest private-sector-driven initiative for women entrepreneurs is IWAPI – the largest women’s business association in Indonesia. Established in 1975 by two women entrepreneurs, IWAPI has grown into a large network with branches across the country. About 85 per cent of its members work in micro or small businesses.

There is an annual membership fee, and in exchange IWAPI provides services such as business training, access to partners (eg banks and cooperatives), and information (eg about markets, upcoming bazaars, and business opportunities). Interestingly, many of its past programs were undertaken in partnership with the GoI, foreign governments, international development agencies & private corporations.

Some incubator programs in Indonesia are – Founders Institute Jakarta, an incubation program for start-up founders. It has initiated the Female Founder Fellowship Program – which allows aspiring women founders to participate in its gender-neutral program at no cost. Women focused programs include Investing in Women’s cohort-based Impact Accelerator Program and the Womanpreneur Community Incubator ( a four-month incubation program) .

> More Programs Supporting & Promoting Women Entrepreneurs in Indonesia

– Founders Institute Jakarta: Female Founder Fellowship Program
– Investing in Women’s Impact Accelerator Program
– Womenpreneur Community
– Business association or network Ikatan Wanita Pengusaha Indonesia (IWAPI)
– Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Program
– Facebook #SheMeansBusiness
– The Entrepreneurship Indonesia Program by Google’s Womenwill
– Women Investment Series (WISE)

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