• Naimah Lutfi Talib
    Naimah Lutfi Talib
    Policy and Governance Department

How do women entrepreneurs experience to expand their SMEs? Does the outcomes worth the struggle?



Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Indonesia's economy. In 2013, SMEs contributed to 60% of the country's Gross Domestic Product and 93% of total employment. From that big portion, creative industries, especially food and fashion sectors, are the emerging contributors, which in total have been contributing to approximately 35 - 41% GDP since 2013. These two sectors are mainly dominated by women-led/owned SMEs. However, there is a gloomy picture: a total of 60% SMEs is still concentrated in Java island. This research explores two main areas: how is women entrepreneurs in food and fashion industries experience in expanding their businesses and to what extend this processes contribute to empowerment. This research also intends to find recommendation to boost women-led/owned SMEs, especially in Central and Eastern Indonesia. This research uses qualitative methods with semi-structured interviews with 6 women entrepreneurs in food industry and fashion industry. The early findings of this ongoing research are the identification of several main challenges faced by women entrepreneurs: access to capital, technological adoption, and lack of business skills. Further, this research intends to see the potential relationship between women entrepreneurs and empowerment: how women entrepreneurs perceive themselves after having a certain level of bargaining power in accessing source of income (resources), self-confidence (achievement), and influence power (agency) in the households and community. Finally, the temporary recommendation for this research is to implement the Triple Helix strategy, and facilitate mentorships and supportive environments, especially to women-led/owned SMEs in the Central and Eastern Indonesia.