Nina A. Loasana, Jakarta – The Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry has teamed up with UK-Indonesia Tech Hub – a technology and innovation hub initiated by the British Embassy in Jakarta – to launch a training program for Indonesian women who own micro and ultra-micro enterprises.
Dubbed HERfuture, the program aims to increase digital literacy among women entrepreneurs and to help them maximize the use of technology to support their businesses.
In cooperation with unique fashion company Du' Anyam, the ministry is set to implement the program in six regencies and cities across the archipelago, namely Central Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Rembang and Kendal in Central Java, Central Bangka in Bangka Belitung, Cilegon in Banten and Palembang in South Sumatra.
Around 100 women entrepreneurs have been selected to join the two-month online training courses.
Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Bintang Puspayoga said the training could help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) cushion the economic impact brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The country's small businesses, which account for more than 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employ a majority of the labor force, have been battered by the COVID-19 crisis, as the economy enters into recession following economic contractions recorded in the second and third quarters.
"Surveys by the Cooperatives and SMEs Ministry show that SMEs face many problems during the pandemic, such as drops in sales, difficult procurement of raw materials, slow distribution and production decline," Bintang said during the launch of the HERfuture program on Wednesday.
"The program is our contribution to help home-scale businesses, especially those owned by women, to survive and thrive amid the pandemic as well as to increase their competitiveness in the digital era," she added.
British Ambassador to Indonesia, Owen Jenkins, said the courses would cover several topics such as digital literacy, business operation and market access.
Through HERfuture, the United Kingdom government could share its experience and expertise in the digital and technology sector, he said.
"England is the home to more than 600,000 digital start-ups and we've seen the birth of some of the most successful and famous unicorns in the world," Jenkins said, "We hope to share our expertise and experience and to play a strategic role to push inclusive digital access for women entrepreneurs in remote areas."
He said the HERfuture program could help strengthen SMEs' presence and resilience during the pandemic by giving them new skills and additional knowledge to navigate the online market.
"The COVID-19 pandemic strains all businesses, so if we could give [SME owners] some new skills and some additional knowledge to navigate the online market, to give them access to new markets and finance, it would strengthen their resilience," he said.