It’s long been clear that Indonesian businesses led by women face limited access to financing, support networks, and training, and are hampered by societal norms and gender-based discriminatory policies. But why exactly?

UN Global Pulse Jakarta and UN Women Indonesia collaborated on a study to understand the issues underlying these hurdles and to address systemic barriers limiting the growth of women-led businesses that are dedicated to improving people’s lives and the environment. 

We interviewed 42 top executive entrepreneurs and seven ecosystem enablers, reviewed over 100 reports and articles, and observed many entrepreneurship forums. We found that nearly everyone has different expectations of the growth potential of businesses depending on whether they are headed by men or women.  In addition, the system is biassed against women, especially during pregnancy and early motherhood.

Our impact

This study has changed top-level decision-making concerning women-led businesses dedicated to improving people’s lives and the environment. We used a systemic design approach to transform how partners assess and design programs to support women entrepreneurs. 

The study made comprehensive recommendations to diversify financing options and integrate gender-smart approaches into support networks to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs. It underlined the need for growth in the important care-work sector: women do most of the cooking, cleaning and childcare in the home, and might take care of elderly relatives as well. Hiring outside carers to take on some of these duties could allow women to grow their businesses.

Our lessons

  • Entrepreneurs need a variety of financing options that correspond to their approach to growing their business.
  • Support networks need gender-smart strategies.
  • Investment in expansion of the care work sector would provide much-needed respite for Indonesia’s women entrepreneurs, while creating jobs for millions of people.
  • Future interventions, policies, and support structures to foster an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs should incorporate these findings.