UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: Jasmine Prasetio: Sotheby’s Country Head – Indonesia

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Jasmine Prasetio, I’m the country head of Sotheby’s in Indonesia.

How did you become the youngest country manager of Sotheby’s in Indonesia?

I’ve always been passionate about art since I was very young. I was fortunate as I was exposed to this world early on, visiting museums, galleries and auctions, including Sotheby’s in Singapore. At that time the auctions for Southeast Asian Art were still held there. We talked about art often and the opportunity to join came up when I was chatting with the Managing Director. I was at a career crossroads and she asked if I would be interested to join, as I was so passionate about art. I started as an intern and the rest was history.

How have the Southeast Asian and Indonesian art scenes grown since you joined Sotheby’s?

I began my career at Sotheby’s in Singapore in 2004 and being in a smaller sale center, I learnt about various aspects of the business in a comprehensive way. When Sotheby’s centralized all Asian auctions to Hong Kong, I moved there in 2009, as a Specialist in Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, where we saw the collector base grow across international boundaries. I had the wonderful opportunity to see the category grow from regional to international. When I started, the sale volumes were around USD 5-8mn a year; now, the range for the Southeast Asian category is between USD 25- 40mn. It’s a great leap.

At the end of 2012, I was tasked to spearhead the conception of a new auction category as well as executing its successful inaugural auction that features Asian and Western contemporary art and design for the first time in Sotheby’s Asia. That was an enriching experience that I will always remember and one that has strengthened the bond between my colleagues and myself until today.

When I came back to Indonesia in 2013 to take on the regional role, it was a great time for art here because Indonesia was at, I think, one of its best economic performances so it was such a big opportunity for art and culture to flourish. That was the period when it really went global. It’s not only about Indonesian art or Southeast Asian art. It’s about Indonesian artists being on an international platform, being collected by international collectors, and vice versa: having Indonesian collectors collecting international art. The scope has just grown so much over a period of fourteen years or so.

What makes you unique?

You know among all the questions, I find that the most difficult. Because I don’t see myself as unique, I think that I’m quite ordinary, actually. But I am able to lead a unique life

because I’m so fortunate to be in a unique industry. Art is such a powerful platform and a powerful link that connects people from all walks of life. We can have people from different backgrounds at the table: a banker, an industrialist, a teacher, a Bohemian, a professional, an artist, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Furthermore, I have also found that art and passion are boundless and are also found in the other categories like Jewellery, Watches, Wine and Automobiles. Everyone is so connected because of their passion. I find that unique and very enriching to my life. I have learnt a lot from all of these relationships and friendships that I’ve forged. Being surrounded by these very inspiring people, there is this intangible spark that we get from one another, that has the ability to inspire, energize and provide a different perspective. I think that’s the best part.

Speaking of inspiring people, is there a unique woman that you look up to?

There are so many amazing women, but personally, I think the most inspiring person for me is my mother. She is not only my mom, but also my best friend, and I think she is unique and special. She has managed to build a business of her own, which has been established for 33 years now. And yet, with all of that achievement, she has a balanced life. She is the best mother, a devoted wife, and a great and fun friend. She manages and fulfills all of our needs, putting all of us before herself. No matter how busy she is, she’s always there for us whenever we need her, and she does it all so effortlessly and with so much wisdom and humor.

Actually there is a little comic piece I want to share with you that illustrates this perfectly. It’s a Mother’s day comic strip, where it says, “Mom we’ve hired a few people to fill in for you while you relax on Mother’s Day,” and there we have a big group of people substituting for one person. You have a clairvoyant, a teacher, a nurse, a clown, a chef, a priest, a driver and a maid.” Being a mother is the most admirable job of all.

How do you deal with challenges that come with the job?

I have learnt that life will never stop giving you challenges, so addressing it is just a matter of perspective. Challenges are opportunities; once we overcome them, that’s when we grow. Most of us don’t know the strength we have within. I believe that there is really nothing that we cannot overcome if we have faith. We wouldn’t be given burdens that we cannot bear. Each day has its own problems, but each day we will always find a solution to that. So let’s not view it as a challenge, but as an opportunity. Let’s not see it as a burden, but as a footstool that we can use to step up and grow as a person.

What is an instance where you’ve overcome a career challenge through leadership?

Well, there was one incident when we were preparing for an auction in Hong Kong. Our auctions are usually held at the Hong Kong Convention Center and we would build the panels and space from ground zero; everything is from scratch. So it was on a crucial set up day that there was

suddenly a typhoon level 8 warning. But the show must go on and we had to open the exhibition the next day. This freak of nature happened and it was something we couldn’t control. Unfortunately, during a typhoon this severe in Hong Kong no one can take public transportation because everything is shut down and taxis won’t take us because they are not covered by insurance and the art movers couldn’t even come in. So I think for 10 hours, we had no one but ourselves to set up. It was

a challenging time, but we – all the Sotheby’s team – came together. And we did it! I don’t know how, but we did it. It must have taken a small miracle, but we completed everything on time, and that auction week became one of the best auction weeks in our history! That was a triumphant moment that would not have been possible without strong teamwork and leadership.

How is the gender dynamic in the art world? At Sotheby’s specifically?

I think I have been so fortunate, that I am in a company where they value and give opportunities for women in leadership roles. And I feel grateful that there are also gentlemen in leadership roles who are unafraid to be champions of women’s empowerment. They have also given great support to me in my career.

There are a lot of women working in the art industry, and as far as Sotheby’s is concerned, we don’t shy away from having women as leaders. Our chairman for Asia, in fact, is a woman. But I understand that it is a real privilege to be in this situation and that not everyone is as fortunate. And now we are also seeing an increasing appreciation for women artists, such as the Indonesian artist Ay Tjoe Christine (who, by the way, we just sold for around USD 980,000 last April in Hong Kong), as well as Joan Mitchell and Louise Bourgeois, to name but a few. They are getting a lot more news headlines and breaking market and scholarly barriers. These are all very positive indicators of what is to come in the future.

The biggest revolution is that more and more women are supporting other women and empowering other women. There is serious value in that. Although at times we can’t control our environment, we can always make a change, no matter how small it is, by starting with ourselves. The women’s empowerment movement has left a very profound mark in my heart, because it is inspiring to see how we are empowering other women. I think that is the big mission that we can be more involved in.

What tangible steps can we take to empower more women to fill leadership positions?

That is a huge responsibility of which I feel I am playing only a very small role. But speaking generally, a small role can make a big impact. What we can all do is to hire more women and give them fair remuneration; that’s just one step towards this goal and mission. There are so many amazing and talented women — even if we ignore gender and base hiring on qualifications, we can easily find plenty of qualified women in the workforce.

In addition, perhaps we can help other women by simply being available. For example, I would always like to spare some time for someone who is young – perhaps just starting in the art industry – who would like to hear my experiences in the art world.

Many define success as being linked to wealth. In a way, wealth accumulation enables the art industry to grow. What is your view on the relationship between wealth and success?

Maybe I will first share my view of success, because that has changed over time. In the past it’s always been about something tangible, like breaking the next world record, or

bringing an Indonesian artist to an international platform, or having an exhibit in an international institution. But that is just a small part of the picture; I have learnt a very important lesson – that success is not a one man show. Whatever achievements that we have achieved, where we are today, are all due to an intricate ecosystem of people, all of whom contribute different elements into that success, and none can thrive without the other. So, success is about teamwork,

having a great support system and a great team. I have been very blessed because I’ve worked with the best – my own wonderful team and my colleagues at Sotheby’s globally. So I think the way I view wealth is not only in financial terms but more importantly, an enrichment of knowledge and forging meaningful relationships.

Financial wealth – well, you can never stop chasing this type of wealth. One day we have it, and the next we may not. But when it comes to knowledge and relationships, we will always have that.

If you were to give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

I would say, know more, learn more, and listen more. I feel that I have embarked on the journey that is planned for me, and I am grateful for that journey, so there is nothing that

I feel is not good enough. But I think that if I had I known what I know today, I would probably be able to do more. Sometimes when we’re young, we think we know everything, but we don’t. (laughs)


UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight is a special collaboration project between UBS Unique and ANGIN to celebrate strong Indonesian women who are exemplary leaders, unique changemakers, and role models. The project celebrates and reflects upon the individuals’ personal anecdote and professional journey and how they are challenging, reinventing and innovating their workplace in order to improve gender equality and be a force of change in their respective community and industry.

Liris Maduningtyas: CEO of JALA

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Liris Maduningtyas and I’m the CEO of JALA. JALA is a data services company that provides services for aquaculture, specifically for shrimp farms. We enable shrimp farmers to increase their yields through technology and smart data. We’ve been in this sector for about two and half years now. I started out with my co-founder, who is actually a shrimp farmer himself. He’s been in the shrimp farming industry for 17 years already, and he started to look at the problem at this shrimp industry and start to gather a team. At the time I was working as a field engineer in an oil and gas services company. I’d been working a lot with data logging and data collection. When I eventually left my company and met with the farmers face-to-face, I started to realize that there is still no such technology breakthrough in this kind of business to improve and optimize the work they do.

Surprisingly, there is actually no available data at all to help farmers make decisions. Farmers must rely on their instincts. For instance, to estimate water parameters, farmers will typically use their fingers by putting them in water. It’s completely insane. In this part of the world, where technology is already booming, we should be able to create a technology solution for these farmers. At JALA, we want to actually help the farmers to gather, all of the data necessary that for them to actually make predictions, to actually make decisions based on the actual data, starting with sensors. So that’s how we started JALA, and how I actually personally jumped into aquaculture.

How does it feel to be one of the leading woman, and furthermore, a C-level woman leader in the aquaculture industry?

It’s quite challenging. If we talk about the shrimp industry and the aquaculture industry in general, there are not a lot of women working in the sector. Most women working in the aquaculture sector usually work with the feed company in managerial roles or research and sales – and not sales in the field, but in the office. I rarely meet female farmers, actually. I’ve only ever met three. But it’s not just about the lack of women in the aquaculture industry, but also the shortage of young people in aquaculture as well.

It can be quite challenging, being a female C-level leader in this sector, especially because of the very small female representation we have here. I always have to prove myself in front of the farmers, who are often quite old and knowledgeable. But I am coming to the table with something; I also have knowledge in this business, and I actually can help them. Being a female leader can be beneficial as well, because I’m different. And people typically love something that is different.

What societal expectations do you face as a young woman? What’s your family’s and friend’s opinion about you joining the aquaculture industry?

You may have already guessed that the environment didn’t start out super supportive. I mean we’re living in Indonesia and it’s part of the culture that women are supposed to be at home, not at the office. It’s changing, sure — you can go to the office, but you know, maybe as a secretary. My parents actually encouraged me to become sort of a certified lecturer, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Once again, I had to prove to my parents that I could actually do it. The process took hard work and patience, but it paid off. I actually won a pitching competition on behalf of JALA and then started gaining revenue from the farmers. Now my family is starting to realize that I can actually do it. They’re really supportive. One hundred percent. But they needed some sort of proof first.

How is the startup ecosystem in Yogyakarta? Are there many women entrepreneurs?

In general, there many women entrepreneurs in Yogyakarta, but those specifically working in the startup ecosystem are quite rare. I do find a lot of female entrepreneurs in Jakarta and maybe outside of Indonesia, but in Yogyakarta, you can probably only find a small handful of C-level women in this business.

The majority are in offline, then?

Yes, yes, exactly. The majority of women entrepreneurs are in offline businesses, like coffee shops or restaurants, you know, desserts and the like. But I do really want to encourage women to consider aquaculture and agriculture as career paths. Aquaculture and agriculture are things that you don’t really have to be afraid of.

So in your opinion, why there is there such a limited number of startups?

I think it’s because of people’s perceptions of startups. I’ll tell you a story from my university days. Only two startup founders came from my major, which is electrical engineering. That was in 2010. But then in 2011 with the younger generation, that number started to grow. Although it still wasn’t a lot, I still hope that the trend will continue. There are a lot of women trying to actually become entrepreneurs in the startup scene. Especially in technology.

Who are your role models?

I have a lot of role models, but I’ll just tell you about someone who is currently inspiring me – Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook because I think she’s funny and energetic and patient. She really faced a lot of challenges as a woman entrepreneur at the beginning of her career. And I feel like part of her story also resonates with my own story. So the way that she overcame all of those challenges is something that I draw motivation to also overcome my own.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

I really want to own more than two companies. One company is this one. For the second one, I do really want to own a farm — a high-tech aquaculture farm. I really want people to know that working as a farmer is not a low profile job. I just want to open people’s minds, to tell them that farming is actually a good business. And when it comes to farming, technology, and young people, it could be something that is seen as desirable and lucrative.

What is your advice for young people out there, especially for women who want to start their careers as an entrepreneur in the startup ecosystem?

Girls, don’t be afraid. You have equal rights and equal potential as a person, and you’re equal in every potential skill that you’d need to actually become an entrepreneur in the startup ecosystem. And I hope for you to not be afraid. Don’t just wait to have a secure job. Be out there. Find the problem, find the solutions, and start to build something that is really cool — and make money out of it!

Marianne Rumantir: CEO of

Tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Marianne Rumantir and I am currently the CEO of helps businesses create great value for their customers by providing end-to-end loyalty solutions. Our mission is to change the loyalty landscape in Indonesia.

I come from a diverse background; I studied Communication and Advertising at university and ended up working in the corporate world, I was in corporate communications for several banks for about four years. Then I started a family.

As someone who is a career chaser it was very hard, especially because I was living overseas with no support system. So I started my own business back in 2009. My first business was a restaurant that I started with some of my friends in Melbourne. That restaurant actually still exists; it’s been there for the last 10 years. We expanded and opened up a few more branches, expanding to the US. This led me to move to Los Angeles, California.

While abroad, I would always get requests from others to buy them something and bring it back. You know, with Indonesians every time you hear someone is traveling overseas, you’re always asking, “Can you buy me something?” (laughs) That happened to me a lot. I’m actually not a big shopper, but I thought that I could actually make a business out of this. That’s how I started getting into technology. I established an e-commerce business where I would shop US products for Indonesians for a small fee. I had to use my credit card quite frequently because of this, so I ended up collecting a lot of points. From there, it kind of became my obsession, because I found out that I could actually use my points as a currency.

I’ve always had a passion for travel. At the time, I’d never been to Europe and I had no budget as a struggling business owner. And it wasn’t just for me — I had a family to consider as well. I did a lot of research and apparently there are a lot of people in the US that use points to travel everywhere; they can even upgrade to luxury cabins using points. I became obsessed in reading all these blogs, learning about how to travel hack.

When we finally flew to Europe, we basically spent nothing. We flew business class and we stayed in a luxury hotel for free. Combined, we had accumulated over 500,000 worth of points every year. Everytime we went on a holiday, it would be for free. I started sharing these points experiences online, creating a points-hacking blog targeting Indonesians.

Then, I started exploring about the Indonesian market and found out it was quite feasible. I was introduced to Edy, now an advisor at Edy actually offered me a role at his other company. He said, “Why don’t you come back and work with us where you can bring some value?” I immediately told Edy yes to though, but I told him that we would need to change how people perceive loyalty programs in Indonesia. My initial idea wasn’t commercial. I wasn’t trying to make money. It was about how can we help Indonesians do the same thing that I could do back in the US.

I came back last year and then we took it from the ground up.

How is it like to be a pioneer in the loyalty space?

We are trying to take advantage of being the very few players who provide these services. This is why we cater to a very specific, niche market. At the moment, our clients are all mid-market to large enterprises, because a lot of them require some sort of customization. When you go to other smaller companies, they don’t really do any customization because there is one product for everyone, which is another product that we are developing at the moment.. For us, one selling point is that we can hit different kinds of verticals. That’s why we have clients ranging from hotels, retail, lifestyle, food and beverage. We’ve always believed that no one size fits all. After all, the way you create a loyalty program for hotel clients and F&B is completely different.

We’re very grateful that we’re one of the first ones. There will always be new companies in the industry, so it’s good to be the benchmark for others, right? It’s also been a blessing for us to be the first, because client acquisition becomes easier. We stopped looking for clients because we get so many from referrals. It’s a great testament of our services from existing clients that they would actually recommend their contacts to use us. I’ve never really thought of us as pioneers, but I want to take that as an advantage for our company to grow even faster and to hold the biggest market share.

What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?

When we first started, pricing was a huge challenge. Many were not familiar with our service, and didn’t understand why they should pay so much for a service that they had no idea about. Our response was to provide value to clients and prove to them that our pricing is worth every penny. That’s why we are quite big on the data team, because a lot of clients sit on a tremendous amounts of data that aren’t being used properly. That’s where we bring value. We can help you analyze all these transactions, create insights, craft targeted promotions, and ultimately increase sales.

As a woman leader, I’ve never really experienced anything too extreme. Most of the time I feel like women have achieved a place in the startup world, even though I know that looking at statistics women still make up a comparatively low number of startup founders. It’s very rare to find women entrepreneurs. But compared to the US, we’re doing better. I know for a fact there’s a big wage gap between men and women in the US. However, I remember working in an Indonesian company, and between myself and another male sharing the same position, we were paid the same. Here, it’s more of a position and level gap than a gender wage gap.

Back then, when people heard about startups and tech companies, there was this perception that you need to be an engineer, right? It was a man’s world, and if you didn’t know how to code, then forget about it. Whereas these days, startups are all about creating disruptive businesses – who can be the most innovative, who can achieve the best product-market fit, who are the founders. So expectations are different as well.

As a female founder, how can you create your own niche and get started?

So you can be a health freak for example. Maybe you want to change people’s behaviors and increase the amount of exercise people do. So it’s not just about coding and programming; it’s everything else. There are many female entrepreneurs in the travel industry and the beauty industry, for example. That’s what I like about the startup world. It’s open. You’re not just creating code or making mobile apps. It’s the whole package. But it’s also the perception and message that we need to create for all women out there to say that hey, the door is open. It’s open for everyone.

Are there any benefits to being a woman founder?

In a way, yes. Since statistically there are fewer women founders, you actually get noticed quicker. But that’s not what success boils down to. It really comes down to your leadership style. And I think women have a definite advantage when it comes to that. We have more empathy. It has its pros and cons of course, but I’d like to think that as a woman I can understand people’s situations better. For example, we have an employee who is also a mother. I would understand if she needs to take time off because she has to look after her family. I also understand that even men who have kids who want to go home early should be able to as well, because they need to spend time with their kids. I always strive to make sure that our company culture is healthy, that our employees know that, look, you are supposed to work hard, but that doesn’t mean that you neglect your other obligations.

How do you balance your time as a founder, a mother, and a family member?

The key is: it takes a village. So I do have a good support system. If I were doing this overseas, I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I’ve achieved right now. In comparison to what I’ve achieved over the past one year here, I’d probably only be able to achieve it in three years overseas. Living overseas, I didn’t have a support system. I have no family overseas, and hired help would be too expensive. Whereas here, the support system is very strong so I get to go to work without having to worry about picking up my kid at the daycare or something. That’s one element.

Second, the most important thing to survive is to make sure I myself am happy. I know that a lot of mothers always put their family’s needs above they ended up neglecting themselves. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but we’re also in charge of our own happiness, right? If we know how to make ourselves happy and content then our families will also feel that positivity. I still socialize and work, but I have my own time at night and on weekends with the family. And of course the weekend is for catching up on sleep. I guess it’s all about quality. It’s not quantity. Making sure everybody gets enough time. As a result, the aura I bring in at home and at work and everywhere, it’s always positive. Then again it takes a village. I can’t do this alone.

What did you learn from failure?

My background has always been working in a corporate world, right? And so I had always been an employee. Growing up, I never thought I would ever run my own business because my parents are all professionals. I mean, I don’t have a trust fund. So I was taught that as an professional, you have to climb the corporate ladder to progress in your career.

I’m actually the only person in my family who is pursuing entrepreneurship full-time. I’m kind of a rebel. I am the risk-taker. Thankfully my husband has the steady job, so even if I failed, at least we could still eat. Honestly, the first six months to a year — that was a big struggle. I almost quit my first business because I wasn’t getting paid monthly, and it was definitely less than the amount that I used to get from my corporate salary.

It was a big struggle for me, but the thing that made it sustain is because I have a good business partner, my business partner came from a background of entrepreneurs. So he was the one who motivated me and told me I needed to be patient and persistent and to just do our best. So he was the one who believed in our venture, and that’s why we continued to expand. Not all of the expansion was a success. But that didn’t mean that we had to stop.

And I’ve learned that in order to succeed, you can’t do it by yourself. You need a team and you need a business partner because otherwise I don’t think you can handle all the hard stuff on your own. When you face issues or problems, sometimes you can’t think of the solutions all by yourself.

I may not be the person with the most brilliant ideas in the company,  that’s why we like to hire a lot of smarter people. My job is to be able to facilitate all these people so that their ideas can come to life. That’s what a leader should do. When you manage something, it doesn’t mean that you have all these great ideas all the time. What you need to do is to facilitate others. Again, the failures that I’ve experienced were largely because I did not have the right team. That was my lesson.

What are the ingredients for the right team? For the right business partner?

You need to find someone who complements you. Don’t find someone who is exactly the same. At the moment, our senior management team all have completely different specialties. I’m more on the external side, like marketing and business development. Robert is more the data/insights person and he’s very good at strategy. All three of us have completely different specialties, so we would complete each other, right? Every time we are facing issues, we can work together to think about what’s next. It’s a good combination when we put our heads together.

Do you have any role models?

I always say that my mother is my idol. She has been a professional all her life, but I feel like I was never neglected by her despite of how busy she’s always been. I have always seen her as someone who knows how to balance things. She knows her priorities. In terms of leadership, I like to see different types of people leadership. I like to follow Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg for womens’ rights heroes. I like to combine lessons from all of these women and decide what would best apply to me. I don’t think one person’s leadership management is something that I can exactly copy. So I just try and follow different types of leaders to see what would fit my style.

How would you describe yourself as a leader?

I’m a very open person. That’s why we don’t have doors in our offices. I want people to be able to talk to me anytime. Whatever position you have, whatever department, whatever your specialty — if you feel like you have something that you know bothers you, if you’re not happy then you can come talk to me. I want to maintain that open culture. Second, I want to make sure my employees are happy. This is why I like having a lean company, because I know each one of my employees personally. I want to know what makes them tick, what makes them happy, and how I can help them grow professionally. I don’t micromanage, but I know exactly what everyone’s doing. That’s why we have alignment meetings regularly, because I want to know what people are doing without stepping on their toes too much.

Are you the only girl in the family?

I’m the only one — I have two brothers. Maybe it was because I was raised by a working mother, I was never expected to become a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always wanted to work. Like I said, I’m probably the only rebel in the family who took a big risk with her career through entrepreneurship. I see it as a way to set a good example, at least for my nieces, you know, and for the other extended family. I want them to know you can actually make it as a working mother as long as you know your priorities.

Do you have any advice for other girls who want to start their own businesses?

Looking back at my experiences, the fact that I didn’t start my own business straight out of school was a good lesson for me. Because through my professional experiences, I’ve learned how to become part of an organization first, to kind of build my career up from the very bottom. So I know how it feels like, being at the lowest level first, and then how it feels like to collaborate with other people and how to have a boss. Having mentorship is also important because I know these days a lot of younger people start their own businesses straight out of school, so they lack mentors. I mean, it’s not a wrong way to approach entrepreneurship. It’s just that for me, I had a better learning foundation. Either way is fine, but for me, it’s better to gain experiences not as an owner but as an employee, so that you know how to treat your team.

Michele Soeryadjaya: Director of William and Lily Foundation

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Michele Soeryadjaya and I’m the Director at the William and Lily Foundation, which is a family foundation that my father started with his sister about nine years ago. I joined about two and a half years ago and at the time it felt like I just stumbled into it. Although looking back at how I got to that point now, it was actually kind of an organic process. I studied business in college and I was planning to get into finance after graduation, but towards the end I had also developed an interest in sustainability. Luckily I ended up at a private equity fund that focused on sustainable agriculture and water in Singapore, so I was able to pursue both interests. In the two years I spent there, I grew a deep interest in the agricultural space in Indonesia. I really wanted to learn more about it, specifically about working with smallholder farmers.

That’s when I reached out to JAVARA and asked to volunteer with them for a few months. I ended up spending six months with them, half of which I spent in Flores. I instantly fell in love with the island, and at the same time realized that there was a great need in the region. So when my father suggested that I should join the family foundation and help grow its efforts, I jumped at the opportunity to do so and direct its focus towards eastern Indonesia. Today, the foundation’s target areas are marginalized communities with an emphasis on those in that part of the country.

What’s your day to day like at the foundation?

As a grant-making foundation, we do not implement or operate our own projects. It’s not dissimilar to how a private equity fund operates – we find partners who can execute programs we want to run, and work with them closely to ensure we maximize effectiveness and impact. So there are two main blocks of activities, sourcing new projects and monitoring current projects. We are a lean team, so everyone is a little involved in all parts of the foundation’s operations even though we do all have designated roles.

What motivates you to keep doing the work that you’re doing at the foundation?

Growing up in Jakarta, you are exposed to the disparity and inequality that pervades everyday life from a very early age. I’ve been more than lucky and grateful to have been born into the easier end of that spectrum. And even though I’ve always been aware of the difference, I can’t say that I’ve always understood or fully appreciated what that really meant. Being able to go to college abroad in a developed country like the US was what made me really start to realize the impact of that difference, the real difference of opportunity. And from early on I knew that I wanted to do something that would have an impact for more than myself after I graduated, whatever that meant, like many people my age and my generation. For me, a lot of it was also due to the timing – it was also the spring of 2009 when I started my studies in Business Administration, right after the height of the financial crisis. So while I learned about the appeals and advantages of capitalism, its risks and perils were also deeply ingrained in me. My key takeaway was a lesson in accountability and responsibility.

And I feel like if you look at all the big issues around the world today, I think all of it really boils down to inequality. And a lack of accountability. I know there are a lot of people who want to change that and who want to make an impact for those who have been dealt less opportunities in life, and so many people are doing exactly that but there are also many who want to that don’t have the right support or means to do it yet. I feel like I am in a very lucky position to have both the support and means to do it because of my family, and this all is what really motivates me to keep at it.

As a new angel investor at ANGIN and someone with previous startup experience, what excites you about the startup industry?

I think there is something very optimistic and hopeful about the startup industry. I think more and more people are realizing that the status quo is not working for the majority of the population anymore. We are starting to see some of the consequences and negative implications of what we knew before as tried and proven methods of doing things, and there is a need to change some of those immediately. And I think that’s what the startup industry represents for the most part, how to do things better for more people and with less harm. That’s what I find most exciting.

What was one of the most interesting things that you got to see or do during your experience at JAVARA?

I spent six months at JAVARA, half of which I spent at their office here in Jakarta and the other half in Maumere, Flores. At the time they were setting up their production facility there, and I was kind of the defacto mandor (building contractor) because they didn’t really have anyone else who could dedicate their time to it on the ground. So my main role was just really to be their eyes and ears on the ground, and help oversee the construction process. Everything was new to me. I was completely out of my comfort zone on all fronts and I learned so much because of it. The whole experience was really interesting for me. What was really cool was that I just got to speak and interact with all these people with completely different lives than my own. And especially because I got to meet and talk with all these different farmers, which was why I sought out the experience in the first place, and understand more about the issues they face and how they thought about different things. That has definitely been really valuable in guiding some of my decisions and thought processes throughout my time at the foundation because many of our direct beneficiaries are very much like those farmers.  

What are you most excited about joining ANGIN as an angel investor?

I’m really excited to just learn and get to know all the different kinds of companies and ideas that are starting up. Like I said earlier, I think there is something really optimistic and hopeful about the space. The idea that there are people everyday working and thinking about how to do things better is really awesome to me. That may be a slightly naïve way of looking at things, but I do think that that is the most exciting part of the whole startup space. I’m particularly interested in agriculture, food and financial inclusion, and I know there are lots of innovation going on in those spaces so I’m particularly excited to learn about that.

How is the gender dynamic like in the foundation space?

My personal experience was that it was a bit tough for me coming in. The foundation was more alike to a typical, traditional corporate kind of experience here in Indonesia (or in many parts of the world for that matter): mostly or all men in decision-making roles and women in strictly supporting roles. So I was joining a team of four excluding myself, one woman in the administrative position and three men in active operational roles. Obviously being someone directly from the founding family of the organization gave me a boost and helped a lot, but it was definitely difficult in the beginning. There was this one person I particularly had a really tough time with. It was clear that he didn’t take me seriously, he would always just laugh when I talked to him and was just really patronizing and dismissive towards me. And I could see his attitude towards women reflected in the projects he put together as well, he never included women in any trainings the foundation held, for example. Luckily though, that has been to date one of the hardest attitudes I’ve encountered, within our own foundation and other foundations we have interacted with.

So far my exposure to other family foundations have been fairly positive and many of them are quite well-balanced in terms of gender equality both in their own teams and their programs. I think because many of the younger generation, especially the younger women, have taken the lead at these foundations and they obviously tend to be more aware of the importance. I do also think that in general the development and non-profit space is more attuned to gender dynamics, because we encounter the harmful consequences of having that gender disparity on the field a lot. Especially in rural and marginalized areas.

Can you describe the gender disparity that you see in those areas?

All of our projects right now are in Sumba, and I think actually relatively speaking the gender disparity there is not as acute as it is in some other parts of the country or the world. There is definitely still a lot of room and need for improvement. For example, we still encounter many women as strong local figures in the communities we work in. But on the other hand, child brides is still very much an issue and prevalent throughout the island and women definitely still play second fiddle to men in household. For the most part I think it is still very much a patriarchal society and women and girls still suffer many abuses and injustices because of this gender disparity, but I do think that we are starting to see some change and progress. That is definitely the sense I get from talking to some people who have worked and lived there for some years.

For one of our projects that is centered around building the capacity of tour guides, almost half of the program participants are women. And that was not actually pre-designed, it was merely based on applications that were submitted and screened through. For another one of our projects though, it was an issue we encountered on the daily in the beginning. The project is focused on training and equipping new mothers and health workers who are mainly women with awareness and knowledge of the importance of proper nutrition. The intervention requires them to participate in an intensive 10-day workshop. We had difficulty getting this going in the beginning mostly due to the fact that husbands wouldn’t let their wives make that kind of time commitment. Time in the workshop meant time away from household chores and working on the family farms or whatever industry the household was involved in. And this is something that you encounter a lot, where the women bear a lot of the responsibilities but have very little decision-making power. Fortunately though many of the husbands were able to be convinced and so we had many of our target beneficiaries successfully participate in the workshop in the end. So although that mindset does seem to be the status quo, we have seen that it can actually be changed.  

Having been in the field, how do you see shifts in terms of gender dynamic and progressivity in Indonesia?

I think we’ve definitely seen some shifts already in our time working there, both after the fact and as it is happening. I don’t know if it’s like a cultural shift just yet. I think right now it’s still really small and happening in silos, but at least we can see spots and glimmers of it. I’m optimistic because there are a lot of people that have and are currently working on this, both within and out of the island, so I think it will take some time before it becomes a whole cultural shift. But I’m hopeful that it will.

What strategies or tactics did your team specifically employ to get women to speak out?

I think it was just a lot of socialization really. So again, we aren’t actually the ones doing the heavy lifting – it’s all our partners grinding at it. But that’s what we hear when we ask all of our partners about it. In this line of work, and in like many else I think, the key is in making the relationships and building that trust. So in that nutrition project I talked about earlier, the field coordinators spent a lot of time in the villages with the community. It took a lot of speaking to both the women and the husbands, understanding what was important to them and how to speak with them in a way that they could recognize the benefit we were trying to communicate. That’s the hardest part I think, because a lot of these things seem abstract if you don’t see the benefits of it first-hand. So I think it also really helps to have success stories of people that they know or can really relate to. Without the success stories it can be really challenging I think. Possible, but really difficult.

What kind of tangible shift did you feel organizationally on your own team by increasing diversity gender?

We definitely hit a point, or a few really, where I just realized that our team as it was just wasn’t going to work out. It was a really hard decision for me and the first of its kind I had to make, but it had to be done for our organization to grow and move in the direction I hoped it would. So we had to let go of the person that had that fixed mentality of the roles of women and men. And earlier this year we added two more people to our team, one man and one woman. Both of them definitely have a balanced and flexible outlook on the roles of women and men. And I think it really has made a world of difference. I don’t think I fully appreciated how much it would either until it happened. For starters I think we have just gotten a lot more thorough and comprehensive when thinking through and putting together projects because we are really considering all the different angles and perspectives now. So I think it has really improved our effectiveness and the impact that we are able to make as an organization. And I think in terms of team dynamics it’s just gotten more positive and feels more like a safe space.  

Having grown up in Indonesia and then being educated in the States, what kind of differences do you see? What are the pros and cons on both sides in terms of gender equality?

I was in an international school from fifth grade onwards, and I never really felt like gender equality was an issue there. Even if it was, it wasn’t acute enough for me to feel it. I was in local school for a few years before that where I did feel it a bit. I was pretty tomboyish when I was younger, so I did feel like I did get made fun of for being a tomboy. That made me feel like there was this expectation of how a girl should behave, how she should look, what she should like, etc. But it was nothing really malicious, just kids being kids. So although it did have an impact on me, it was not that bad to be traumatic or anything. On the whole, I feel lucky that I was able to have the experience of going to an international school and then going to college in a country like the US where the gender disparity was not something you felt immediately at the surface (in recent years I have realized that it is most definitely there, but much less pervasive and apparent than in Asia generally speaking). Because I definitely felt the difference when I came back to Indonesia and started working here, and it was a kind of a rude awakening. Although I grew up here I guess I was pretty sheltered and insulated from it because of the school I went to, and I think my family is also relatively liberal when it comes to gender equality. And also of course you just realize things a lot more when you are older.

Do you feel that there are glass ceilings that are imposed upon women in Indonesia?

Definitely. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are the half of humankind who can bear children obviously. But that does not mean the sole responsibility should fall on us, after all it takes both a man and a woman to create another human. I do feel lucky and grateful to be born in this generation, though, because I don’t think that our grandmothers or even our mothers had the same options or freedom as we do now. Even though that disparity still exists today, it was much worse just a few decades ago. And I’m thankful to all the women and men who have worked throughout the years and are working now to change that. Though there is still work to be done, the path has definitely been paved for my generation.

What advice do you have for young women who are entering the workforce for the first time and who are facing similar hurdles?

I think what really helps in the beginning is to find allies and to figure out who are kind of lost causes if you are facing issues of gender disparity. There will be plenty of both. And I think that’s also something that you have to realize, that there will be people who will forever think with that lens and will forever think that women are only born to perform a fixed role in life. And I don’t think that that is limited to older people, I know plenty of young people who still think that way. But I also think it’s important to not take it personally. Because there is a reason why there are people who think that way, that is just how they grew up and how they were raised. It is a systemic issue, which is hundreds of years in the making so it’s not just going to go away like that. But I think it’s really important to stick to the people who realize it is an issue and who stand against it. I feel kind of dramatic talking about it but it really can feel like an overwhelming fight if you experience it. So my advice would be to find your allies, stick to them and don’t let the haters get you down. And just focus on the job at hand and kill it. It still happens but it gets harder and harder to deny performance. So just stick to your guns and do the best you can.


Eileen Kamtawijoyo: COO & Co-Founder of Populix

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Eileen Kamtawijoyo. I am the co-founder and COO at Populix. I met with my co-founder, Timothy when we were studying at the University of Cambridge. I was doing my master’s and he was doing his PhD. When I went back for good, I worked at Djarum’s new business initiative, which is their fast moving consumer goods company. Since there were a lot of product concepts that needed to be tested, I found out how market research in Indonesia is very costly and inefficient. Not only does it take a very long time, but the data quality is lacking as well.

When Timothy came back to Indonesia for good, I had already been working with Djarum group for around two years. We were just sharing ideas and brainstorming together, and he was telling me about the advancements made in academic research abroad. Suddenly, we thought maybe there was something we could do to solve the problems here in Indonesia’s market research space.

Around three to six months after the initial conversations that we had, we jumped in and started the journey of building Populix together. Populix itself has been established since December 2017, but we just started running operationally in January 2018. During the 9 months of Populix’s existence, there have definitely been many ups and downs. However, everything has been very worthwhile; so many learnings took place that forced us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and beyond our capabilities imagined.

Populix is a technology-enabled research startup. We are building a consumer insights platform that bridges companies and survey participants. Participants can come onto our platform, register themselves, and fill out their data: their age, their income level, where they live, etc. They are then rewarded every time they participate in a study. Meanwhile, researchers also come onto our platform looking for participants of their target market. They can conduct the survey and have real-time data analysis in their dashboard. In the future, researchers can also buy off-the-shelf data sets from our library or subscribe to these reports on a periodic basis.

What did you find the most challenging as a first-time entrepreneur?

Back then, we were both effectively managing directors, because literally we were managing everything from the very little things to grander things like strategy of the company. You begin to remember the things that you took for granted when you were working in a big company, and you finally realize how much effort it takes to create your own thing. You won’t realize it until you experience it for yourself.

Another challenge was in terms of skill sets. I needed to learn a bit more about finance; back then, I really had no professional experience on finance. So I took some online courses and watched YouTube to teach myself. It’s important so that at least you can have some sort of a financial statement for you to present to the venture capitalists and stakeholders you’re sharing it with when you’re fundraising.

And then there was product development. Timothy and I are both not really tech people. We really have to try our hardest, even up until now, to learn how to communicate with developers, familiarizing ourselves with the different programming languages that we should use, and the reasons why.

We’re still learning as we go. It’s been difficult, no doubt.

What makes you want to continue being an entrepreneur, then?

Well, I’ve always wanted to become an entrepreneur. I feel like it’s so much more rewarding; when you see something that you created yourself — your own vision — coming to life, it gives you a deep sort of satisfaction within yourself. It’s truly rewarding.

And the deeper I go on this journey, I feel that same rewarding sense. It’s just a matter of setting up a strong mentality from the get-go. After all, it’s going to be tough. But you just need to persist. You just need to persevere.

What do you look for in a good co-founder?

I think what makes a good founder is that first you need to know what are the skill sets that you already have — what are your strengths? With the other co-founder, you want to have him or her fill in the gaps or weaknesses that you have, so that you can complement each other. For example, maybe I have more of a reserved personality, while Timothy is more confident. It balances well when we meet with investors or when we are presenting our startup.

What’s more, you both must really believe in this idea. At the end of the day, everyone is going to be against you — even your family and friends. This is vital since there will be times when you may be questioning yourself as to why you are doing this, and to have that someone who can keep rooting for the idea and to keep up the momentum will help you push on.

How is it like to be a female founder? Any advantages or challenges?

So far, it’s been good. I believe that in any organization it’s good to have a balance between males and females because diversity brings richer discussion and richer perspective.

I feel it’s actually advantageous to be a female founder in a way; whenever I was applying for our startup to pitch in competitions, for example, it always have women founders are strongly encouraged to apply, something like that.

I also know that there’s also a lot of organizations who actually are supporting startups with female founders. For example, in the US, you have Melinda Gates setting up an institution to fund women founders. So I think in a way it’s good. I don’t feel like any discrimination or whatsoever. I actually feel encouraged because women are being seen and supported now.

How was it like to be a female employee versus being a female startup founder ?

Perhaps, I just share a bit of my experience. After graduating from my Bachelor’s degree, I was working at Campbell’s Soup in the US, as R&D (research and development). Our CEO was female. It was really empowering for me to see how females can hold such important roles and leadership positions.

And then when I was doing my masters, I found a lot of female PhD candidates, working on amazing and groundbreaking theses.

So, I felt far more encouraged after these experiences than when I was younger. I grew up in a traditional Chinese family, where women are not necessarily encouraged into leadership positions. For instance, higher education and completing a PhD may not be recommended by my parents, since it may result in difficulty finding a spouse. Nevertheless, I feel my journey has been truly blessed, since I am constantly surrounded by many strong female personalities that all encourage me to follow my pursuits.

Do you have any role models?

I don’t have just one per se. I really like Jack Ma; he is really someone who went from zero to one hundred, making it super big. It makes me think that you can’t complain. Like this guy has been through worse. At least I have the advantage of education and having a supportive family. So what’s my excuse? I also really respect his grit and his tenacity of never giving up. He always shares stories of how he pitched countless times, got rejected, but kept on going. I really admire that of him.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

I really want to make more of an impact, not just in terms of business but also social impact. Maybe I can assume a role in the government sector. Who knows? I want to be a part of shaping Indonesia for the better, for future generations to come.

Do you have any advice for other young women who are looking to start their own ventures or dive into entrepreneurship ?

My personal advice is to first find out what your passion is. It may sound cliché but there are going to be tough times ahead, so you need to really enjoy what you do. Then, really just dive into it since I believe that if you have the will, you will find a way.

And of course, putting in all the hard work, the long hours, and having the curiosity to keep learning is vital. Since there are so many things that we will never know, you need to constantly have that hunger to continuously learn. And meet a lot of people, because you will learn a lot from them. Ask for their advice – don’t be scared to ask questions. In a nutshell, be a lifetime learner, network a lot, and continually persist.  

Gitta Amelia: Founder & General Partner at EverHaüs

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Gitta Amelia. I am the founding partner of EverHaüs, a digitally-native venture capital company established in November 2017. We are a millennial-first team and our mission is to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs. I am a Venture Capitalist because I love how venture capital is the first financing product that levels off the playing field and gives people a chance to become entrepreneurs, regardless of biology or background.

At EverHaüs we’re focused on early stage investments, which we call our core investments. For these investments, we are hands-on investors. This is different from our non-core investments – which are typically participations in larger or foreign deals – where we partake as a silent shareholder. The reason why we are focused here is because we know this market very well, given our roots in Frontier Market Research in Indonesia. We believe that with the help of our partners and our other limited partners (LPs), we’re specially suited to help our portfolio here. We also take an ecosystem approach and are big on synergies. If an investment comes to the table where we feel like it could really synergize with all of our portfolios, then we give those opportunities a little more weight.

When we first started, we decided to enter the early stage because we sensed that a fund creep was happening, where a lot of the funds are getting larger and writing larger checks for later-stage deals. The first and second wave of Indonesian funds are now series B and pretty much focus on growth equity. When we first established ourselves, our brand recognition grew quickly just over the course of one year — the reason being because there aren’t many investors left at this age. As a result, our deal flow is very strong.  

My investment journey actually started four years before I founded EverHaüs. I was angel investing with my father. EverHaüs was established as an independent vehicle because I truly believe these startups need the right kind of support to succeed, independent of a corporate agenda. At the early stage, we must support the founder’s vision and mission when you invest in them.

What excites you about the Indonesian market? What investment opportunities exist?

From Frontier, we’ve built a very strong foundation in terms of our B2B relationships in this market. What’s exciting about Indonesia is that many traditional companies here understand the growing importance of the digital economy but have a hard time either targeting digital natives or transforming their company to go digital. So, investing in small teams is exciting because we have a vision of the future that involves these passionate teams.

From what I’ve seen over the past year – being very much on the ground and having heard likely over 500 startup pitches – I think there is indeed a new generation of Indonesian entrepreneurs sprouting up. The opportunity is always there; it depends where you look for it. On a macroeconomic standpoint, I do believe that we are about eight years behind China. We see that GDP per capita is exactly the same today as China’s eight years ago: that is, US$13,500. Mobile penetration is at similar levels. The same kinds of problems that we’re facing in Indonesia are the same as China’s eight years ago, such as financial inclusion.

About five months ago, I was in Hangzhou as an advisor to the Alibaba e-fellowship program. During the two weeks in the Alibaba Headquarters, everything that we believed about China and Indonesia, such as the time gap between the two markets, were confirmed for me.

Mirroring China’s generations of startups, you’ll see a lot of unicorns that will pop up in Indonesia playing a supporting role to the online economy very soon.

You mentioned the profile of the typical Indonesian entrepreneur is changing. What is that like now versus before?

So I think one thing will always stay the same: a startup founder needs to have this kind of “Wolf Spirit.” You can see it in their eyes and the way they talk about their space. That will never change, and it can come from anyone. No matter what your background is, no matter what gender you are, you need that spirit to succeed.

I think what’s changing is that entrepreneurs are becoming a lot smarter. They can spot opportunities a lot better and understand what investors want to hear. In the first wave of startups, founders are obviously going to be focused on more platform models. But nowadays, due to the strength of the platforms, you can think about things that play a more supportive role for these platforms or can grow together with existing platforms.

I believe in Indonesia, we are only at the beginning of a transformation.

How is the gender diversity of your portfolio?

Since November 2017, we’ve closed 10 deals, both core and non-core investments. Out of those deals, we have one portfolio with two female founders. I would love to have more female entrepreneurs in our portfolio but at the end of the day, it boils down to more than gender, because we look at the composition of the team and whether or not they have that wolf spirit. I believe that one of the reasons EverHaüs has to exist is to bridge this gender imbalance in the market. I don’t think we will get there by being idealistic, however. At the top of the funnel, it’s still very much male which translates down to our portfolio as well.

Female entrepreneurs tend to tackle female problems, and female problems are just as real as any other problem. We’re 50 percent of the population, and that’s a sizable market. Not to mention that consumer spending is still very much held by females. It’s usually larger than male consumer spending, and that’s true for most parts of the world. So I definitely want to see more female entrepreneurs. I think female entrepreneurs can be rest assured that when they are coming to EverHaüs, we do our best to understand what they’re trying to achieve.

Why do you think women are struggling so hard to find fundraising?

I don’t think it’s a matter of, “Is she competent?” It’s more like, a voice in the back of your head saying, “she has other commitments,” and one of the things that all VCs champion is the fact that your startup “has to be your life and breath.” VCs don’t like part-time founders or founders with other commitments.

But I think that besides work, we are all humans and as humans, we also have other priorities besides contributing to the economy. There is a bias towards thinking that males will prioritize their work more than females. This kind of stigma trickles down towards a lot of the seed-level investors as well, who say, “If I invest in this particular startup founder who happens to be a female, I’m not quite sure if she can raise series A or series B capital.” As an investor, you don’t want your startup to run dry.

The second issue is that I think a lot of females are tackling very female problems. A lot of them I see are going into things like fashion retail or maternity, which may be difficult for them to explain to a male VC. A male VC might not be able to understand the world that they’re trying to put forward. And it comes with all of these assumptions as well. So a lack of female representation in a fund’s investment committee is a another issue on its own.

Speaking of male and female VCs, I think you’re one of the only people I know who is female and in a high leadership position in a VC, and the only female co-founder and partner of a fund. Why do you think there aren’t as many female VCs in leadership roles, and how do we get more of them into these roles?

I think that women will face challenges regardless of industry or position. It’s true that the climate in finance is sexist and I get a lot of challenging questions. I think you just have to have really thick skin at the end of the day and not worry so much about what others will think of you. Instead, define yourself by your principles and your values.

Be that principled person. I have a couple of principles that I hold on to such as add value wherever you go, be humble, and respect everyone no matter what. Here at Everhaüs, we start off team meetings by reciting our values to remind ourselves that every interaction with a colleague, investor, or founder has to be value-adding. And that’s the kind of person that you start defining yourself as — not on the basis of your gender. When you hold onto those things as opposed to your gender, then I think you can really go further. It’s a lot about changing the mindset. And while it may be difficult to change everyone’s mindset, you could at least start by changing your own.

While there have been challenges as a female leader in the VC space, have there been any benefits as well?

Plenty. First of all as a female VC, you are in a unique position to make a difference and draw like-minded females towards the space.

Secondly, I think that women may have a greater tendency to develop more empathy. Venture capital is a very people-centric business. I studied finance but being in a VC is only 20 percent finance. 80 percent really is about connecting with people, understanding them and their motivations. For a lot of our core startups – we want to be their first call that they make if they run into a problem. And I think that’s one of the things that really makes me happy when I think about it, because it just shows that the relationships that we create with our startups go far more than just providing capital.

Has anyone ever imposed some kind of glass ceiling onto your ambitions?

There are always glass ceilings out there, but they’re glass. You can always break them.

The ones that are not glass are the ones that you create inside your head.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your line of work and your career? Has there ever been one moment in your career that has affirmed and validated everything?

There’s so many people in this world, and having the opportunity to talk to so many people and hear such diverse viewpoints is immensely rewarding. Such as meeting Jack Ma. (laughs)

Being in leadership position means that naturally, people ask what is the best thing about leading your company. I think startup founders and other kinds of leaders can basically attest to this when I say that the best thing is seeing people grow under your leadership. I have a very small team, but I think I’m so blessed that they’ve stuck around all this time. You also see good people become better; that’s what a good company culture does to you.

So I think that’s hands down the most rewarding thing about being in a leadership position. It’s looking back and seeing the impact you’ve had on the people inside of your own company.

Do you have any role models?

One of my role models is my mother. She was an entrepreneur and self-proclaimed soft-skill expert. I didn’t climb up a corporate ladder to get to EverHaüs. So that means being in a leadership position was essentially like being shoved off a cliff. Some hand larger than life pushed me and now I must fly. I get regular breakfast with my mother where I ask for her advice. Having been a management consultant for many companies and large corporations, she tells me stories of great corporate practices. I learned how to build Standard Operational Procedures from her. So even though we’re a very small company and still a very small team, our SOP is what sets us apart. I put a lot of time into investing into our defensibility to build a culture and minimize bias. Even though we’re small right now, there might be a time where we’re not going to be small anymore. So we need to be able to be ready for that. And I think investing in that means investing in the future. My mother has played a huge role in giving me this thinking.

Where do you want to be 10 years down the line?

I always say that I want to be a Limited Partner in my own fund. That’s the goal 10 years from now. My hope is that EverHaüs becomes the trusted partner for any new team out there and can continue to real add value to our economy. I think only God knows where it will be 10 years from now. But as I mentioned to you before, I think there is no real ceiling to our growth. And so we’re going to keep on moving forward.  

Do you have any advice for other young women who are looking to become fund managers or join the investment side of the startup world?

It’s going to be a place dominated with men, so be sure to strap on some very, very high heels. And I think the other thing is, don’t think too much about the challenges. If you do that, you’re only going to hold yourself back.

At the same time, be very strategic about it in terms of knowing your cards. Try to know everybody else’s cards, too. Every step that you make needs to have an intentionality that you must be able to defend. Because you’re going to need that kind of compass. There’s going to be many distractions people telling you that you cannot do something. So as long as in your mind you are clear with your goal, you can make sound judgements and execute accordingly.

ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: 50 Stories, 50 Woman Leaders in Indonesia

ANGIN Women’s Spotlight is proud to publish our 50th story highlighting the achievements and addressing the challenges of female leaders in Indonesia. To commemorate our milestone, we are releasing a mini-report detailing our project thus far. The report combines our project data with insights from Connector.ID’s data analysis to draw insights on the Indonesian entrepreneurial ecosystem through a gender lens. Check the report out now!

To nominate an outstanding woman for woman’s spotlight, kindly fill in the nomination form.  All partnership requests and collaborations may also be sent to Meredith at

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Disclaimer: The data in the report is based on applicants who have submitted fundraising requests via ANGIN and Connector.ID. It is largely self-reported data or data based on the information provided from individual pitch decks. 

Anda Sapardan: Co-Founder of Sehati & TeleCTG

Can you state your name, your position, and your company?

My name is Anda Waluyo Sapardan. I’m the cofounder of Sehati & TeleCTG and in charge of the operations of the company. I’ve been in the medical industry for over 12 years. I’ve managed hospitals before, and I’ve worked in a general hospital as well as a maternity hospital – hospitals specially for women and children. Sehati and TeleCTG are products of passion — it all started from our concern with the quality of health of the next generation of Indonesia actually.

First of all, we are lucky that we have all the things that we need. We get access to information and to hospitals and healthcare. Not many Indonesians have that opportunity. So our concern is about how to provide equal opportunity — at least for information and for access to good maternal healthcare. And that’s where Sehati and TeleCTG come in.

Sehati and TeleCTG are technology solutions to track and monitor the first thousand days of human life. What we do are promotive and preventive measures. We try to provide early detection and warning of risk factors that could cause maternal death, infant death, as well as help to prevent stunting from the very beginning. A happy and healthy pregnancy is the right of every woman. Every woman should experience a very calming and happy pregnancy, since it can affect the outcome of birth and of the woman’s own life.

With technology, it’s easier for people to access information; even in remote areas, as long as you have Internet connection you can gain access. However, technology or innovation won’t reach its optimum utilization if we don’t empower humans themselves. So we tap into that as well.

What inspired you to start your own venture? What made you want to create something of your own?

It’s a bit crazy, because actually my husband and I, we sacrificed quite a lot to start this. We already had a stable income, stable jobs, everything we could have asked for. But the feeling of personal responsibility was too great. The rate of stunting in Indonesia is quite high. It’s like 37 percent of all the children. Just imagine the social burden of our own kids in 10 or 20 years from now. I gave birth to my eldest at a very young age. I was 19 at that moment and I experienced a wonderful pregnancy. And we feel that everybody should have that kind of experience. We feel that family planning and good monitoring during pregnancy is crucial. So that’s actually what really drove us to do this, why we chose to start our own business rather than continue working at the hospital. If we just worked at the hospital, then only the patients of that hospital will get any benefit. By doing this, we can reach far more people.

Have you faced any challenges as a female entrepreneur?

Not at the moment. Not really. It’s just that now I’m in the tech industry, and there are not too many women involved in this field. But it’s a good learning process. Actually, being a female should not deprive you or limit you from being an entrepreneur. As long as you have good intentions and and are willing to work your ass off, I think it is manageable.

Speaking of the lack of female entrepreneurs in the tech space, is that also true of the healthcare space as well?

Actually no, there are many women involved in healthcare. Our aim is to reshape how health services are being provided. Our long term vision is to make community-based healthcare and empower midwives, who are our partners in doing all of this. In Indonesia, midwives are all women, so in the healthcare industry, many women are involved.

What challenges do women face in Indonesia in obtaining quality healthcare and a positive birth experience?

For a positive birth experience there are multiple factors involved, from access to good healthcare to social factors such as a good relationship with your support system. And then there are financial factors. Having access to good information actually really helps; sometimes women who are pregnant have very wild imaginations and worry a lot. For many it is their first time and they are not sure of what to expect. If we can provide good and accurate information, then it would help them to understand the process and calm their nerves. I can say that because that’s what we experienced while we were managing a hospital in South Jakarta.

Sehati and TeleCTG opens access to information for not only mothers but midwives as well. We have three programs for midwives: financial empowerment, knowledge, and skills. From the financial side, we have already deployed one kiosk. We call it Kiosk Sehati for midwives due to their need for increased welfare. One midwife has already expressed that it’s really helped her in her life.

We teach the midwives how to use our technology. It’s really not easy because getting them to fill all the data and forms with the Sehati application rather than manually can be quite challenging. But once they know how to do it, it can really help optimize their work. At the end of the month, they usually have to give a report to the government using our application. That report can be automatically done via our app. So by the end of the month so they don’t have to go through the data manually for the report.

We created the kiosk not only to increase midwives’ welfares but also improve their livelihoods. The kiosks are equipped with a screen, Internet access, and a stove. We hope it can be a hub for people around the kiosk to get more information from the midwives, and provide educational videos through the kiosk screen. We’re already seeing good progress. Many children are coming to the kiosk and viewing the videos. The kiosk also helps to benefit the surrounding economy. Because there are many people coming to the kiosk, some entrepreneurial people – mostly mothers who live in the neighborhood – cook foods like meatballs, tofu, and fried dough and put their food into the kiosk to be sold. So there’s something like a sharing economy going on around that kiosk as well.

Why does empowering women matter in the first place?

There’s this saying that once you empower one mother or one women, you empower a lot of people behind them. Mothers are the pillar of a family, so once they are content and happy, I think all the people around them – the husband, the kids – will benefit as well. I think women really run the family, so it’s absolutely essential that they have their own income, that they are financially empowered, so they can also help the family to provide.

How is it like to be an entrepreneur while also having a family as well?

Being an entrepreneur is different from working for a company because you really have to think about all the details. Actually it is very good because then you will help a lot of people to find work and create jobs. But that also comes with a very big responsibility. Luckily our four children are already grown up; I started being an entrepreneur about three years ago. While my children were growing up, I was still working in a company. So, I didn’t have to face a challenge in that aspect.

How is it like to co-found a startup with your husband?

Up to this moment, it has been really good because we come from the same background. First of all, we have the same passion. And because we are married, we have more time to discuss our startup. While it’s not too good for our personal lives – because all we talk about sometimes is work – it’s been good so far.

Did you ever have a low moment in your entrepreneurial journey? One where you thought, “Oh my gosh, what did I get myself into?”

It happened a year after we started all this. Ours is in medical technology and it’s really not an easy thing to do. First of all, not many investors in Indonesia understand how the healthcare industry goes. I mean, it’s not a quick game. And our product involves both an application and hardware. TeleCTG is a medical device. It’s the first of its kind in Indonesia. So the challenges really were quite big. There were so many regulations, so much paperwork we had to fill. It’s very costly.

We started this business with our own money, so when we hit a point where we didn’t have any more resources to be allocated to the business, we really felt like, “Oh my God, why are we doing this?” It’s so crazy because there are quite a few people who said that we are a crazy couple. But I really believe what Elon Musk said, that if you believe in something, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.

So we kept going, and at our lowest point somehow the gates opened. I’m not saying that what we are pursuing is noble, but we are doing this with the intention of the good of the people. And so the gates just opened everywhere.

And has there been a moment in your entrepreneurial career where you thought, “I’m so happy I did this. This is the path for me”?

With every bit of progress we make, I feel that. I’m happy because I know to start this is not easy. Just to see our team happy doing their job. They are extremely dedicated. I don’t know how this happened, but somehow all the people that came to work on our team have the same passion. Some even chose to work with us with a lower salary than their previous jobs. We have a very good team, and that makes me happy. Secondly, when the midwives we work with tell us that what we do really helps them — the online classes, the kiosk, and how we facilitate everything — those are really good moments for me.

Lastly, do you have any advice for other young women who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?

Being an entrepreneur is a challenging path. But if you really believe in yourself and your capabilities, and if you possess a strong mentality, I believe you can do it. But it’s not easy. You really have to work hard. Secondly, it depends on what industry you want to get into. Make sure you know the regulations and you have the right network before you start everything. And definitely make sure you have enough resources and financial capabilities. Finally, please do this because you have a cause. Do it all with passion and love. It is not easy work, so you will need to believe in this cause to make it through.

Arum K. Putri: Investment Analyst at Openspace Ventures

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Arum. I’m an investment analyst at Openspace Ventures, covering our Indonesian operations through deal sourcing and execution, as well as managing our existing portfolio companies such as HaloDoc and Sale Stock. Openspace Ventures is a Singapore-based venture capital fund investing in Southeast Asian tech-enabled startups, focused on Series A and Series B. We’re industry agnostic and focus on the product, traction, and founders.

I’ve been back in Indonesia for around 3 years now after attending school in Canada. I came back right at the peak of when companies like GO-JEK, Tokopedia, and Traveloka came into the spotlight, and quickly saw the immediate effect technology had on the Indonesian population. Jobs were created, livelihood security was improved, and new access to services were formed. There was no room for that sort of impact in North America, which was why I made the decision to come back and pursue a career in early-stage tech investing.

What is the kind of impact that VCs are making in the entrepreneurship space?

There are definitely many ways that VCs can make impact. For Openspace Ventures, given the early-stage investments that we do, we make sure to add unique, operational value to our portfolio companies and work very closely on the ground with our entrepreneurs to reach their next milestone. We help with all aspects of the business from corporate finance, capital raising, technology strategy, marketing, hiring, and international expansion. For example, recently I helped my portfolio company build their Series B pitch deck and full financial and operational model from scratch, my team helped several of our portfolio with their marketing initiatives, as well hiring engineers for their tech team.

We have a full in-house operational team in technology, HR, legal, and marketing to support our portfolio companies. We also leverage our network across Southeast Asia to help connect our entrepreneurs with other industry leaders, potential customers, partners, or even investors.  Openspace is also very involved in supporting tech founders and investor community in the countries that we operate in. After all, we do focus on building and backing the next wave of technology leaders. I think that’s the sort of impact that we try to make, particularly given the stage that we focus in where most of the founders are operating at a critical juncture.

Has there ever been like a moment where you’ve thought to yourself, this was just so worth it — this moment has made it so worth it for me to have moved back here?

Yeah, definitely. Growing up in Indonesia I’ve always been aware of the large lower income segment of the population that for the most part were largely ignored – those that did not have access to basic financial services or retail experiences in larger cities, and don’t have the same financial power. Several of our portfolio companies are actually changing that, and seeing the type of impact it has is definitely one of my ‘worth it’ moments.

For example, Sale Stock is a women’s fast fashion e-commerce company that enables women in very remote areas of Indonesia – such as Papua or the northernmost point of Sulawesi – who may not have been able to shop at e-commerce sites beforehand, to purchase quality and fashionable clothing at an approachable and affordable price. It’s very empowering. GO-JEK is arguably already transforming the livelihoods of millions through dramatically reducing poverty. I think that sort of impact, definitely had made it worthwhile for me to come back to Indonesia. I think growing up in this part of the world has allowed me to become aware and conscious of the pain points that more developed countries in the West are not aware of. Things like lack of financial inclusion, little access to education and resources, and income disparity were among the problems that I faced. And now seeing that there are technology advances that are alleviating these pain points but also having substantial social impact made my move back to Indonesia so much more worthwhile.

On the other hand, have you ever felt that being back in Indonesia is so challenging that it has made you think, “Why did ever come back here?”

Definitely. Gender inclusivity is an issue here and  challenge in itself. In North America , people have a lot more regard for women in the workplace. Whereas  here, I think the fight for gender equality is still in its early stages. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a family that are  mostly women who are all very successful in their fields. But I have had experiences where I was looked down upon because of my age and my gender. A lot of times in Indonesia, the stigma is still like, “Women should stay at home, women should cook, women should do this and that.” Grouping women into what they “should” do is what makes me really upset, because I think women have the right to freely choose what they want to do. If a woman chooses to raise a family at home full-time or choose to become a founder of a tech company, then that’s their choice and that’s OK, I think that the idea of women having a choice in Indonesia is still something that’s stigmatized, and something that I wish is different.

Has there been like a specific instance where you’ve felt that gender discrimination or you know, that that kind of stigma against you?

At one point in my life, a colleague asked me why I wanted to pursue a professional career, why I was thinking of venture capital, and why I was deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree. He thought I should stay at home instead. He said to my face, “Oh, why do you want to work in finance? Why do you want to do an MBA? You’re a girl…taking care of your home and husband is important you know?” It was so shocking. I didn’t even know how to answer or how to react. I was so flabbergasted and so angry.

Female employees in Indonesia are often still seen as people meant for back office or administrative functions as opposed to having leadership roles. It’s very unfortunate and it makes me really upset that women need to put so much more effort just to be recognized.

What inspires you in this field? Are there any examples of women taking leadership and taking charge?

Something that inspires me is how Openspace Ventures approach female founders and investors. As of right now, we are almost at a 50-50 gender distribution; the partners actually make a conscious effort to have equal representation of women as part of our team, and in our portfolio we also have women-led companies and women founders, which is something that’s rare in Southeast Asia. One of our portfolio companies, Love, Bonito, is co-founded by two very strong women who are leaders in their field but are some of the most hardworking women I know who have come a long way. I definitely think venture capital is a more welcoming space for women to be a part of, whether you’re going on the founder or investor route. We have lots of room for improvement, but it’s going in the right direction.

How does gender play a role in your investments?

We make investment decisions based on the founder and the product, not the gender. However, I think there is definitely a discrepancy between the number of male founders versus female founders I have met. I think female founders only represent less than 10 percent of the startups I meet and that’s quite unfortunate. I think we need more female founders to come to the table.

So how do we get more female founders to come to the table?

Putting the conversation out there, educating and growing the female founder and tech investor community is one way to do it. I think now, more and more initiatives  exist to get more women in male-dominated fields together. There are initiatives like Generation Girl launched by female developers at GO-JEK that teaches coding and data analytics to young and aspiring  developers. There’s SheVC that is a solid community of women investors. Initiatives like those are good for the women community. In Indonesia particularly, access to network and resources are not as widespread  and the gap definitely exist for women who are looking for the right team, founders, investors, and business partners but don’t know where to start. I think from an investor point of view, given our platform we should create more  of these type of initiatives that not only give them the right access to resources, but also give them a space to have a voice and network with other women leaders.

On the other hand, how do we get more women in leadership roles in the VC community?

I think we are barely scratching the surface in terms of women having leadership roles not only in the VC community, but everywhere. It’s still very much male-dominated while gender is obviously not a measure of productivity in the field.  I’m quite thankful that in the VC community I haven’t had any instances with regards to gender biases, and so I’m very fortunate. But in traditional businesses or more male-dominated fields like engineering perhaps, it may not be the case. I think with any business in general they can benefit from gender diversity – I don’t think there is a reason not to. We can start with educating the workplace to having equal opportunities for women to take on leadership roles or even out the distribution in certain functions. Having a general open mindedness and conscious effort to have more women in these roles is a good start. Then slowly more concrete steps can be taken, like a distribution ratio, women-led panels etc.

How is female representation in the private equity industry? How is the dynamic like?

There is definitely less female representation in private equity than venture capital, especially because venture capital involves younger communities like the startups and tech advocates, whereas private equity deals more with more mature and traditional businesses. It’s tough but like with most businesses, more and more women are beginning to pursue leadership roles in male-dominated fields and that is a step in the right direction.

Do you think Indonesia is ready for an all-female fund with a total gender-lens approach?

I think it’s still early, but we’re moving in the right direction. More and more startups are starting to have women founders, but we still need more. Maybe the market is not big enough to address an all-female fund for women-led only investments now, but I hope it will be in the near future.

What is your advice on combating gender stereotypes and gender stigmas, whether it be in the workplace or from family?

Women need to have a voice and to start speaking up for what they stand for . They should  feel free to speak up and advocate for their opinions.I think now more and more women are starting to find their voice in whatever industry or situation that they’re in despite fear. I have been in cases where because I’m a girl, my decision to pursue a professional career is stigmatized because of the Indonesian tradition, but I’ve seen that change because I was able to be more vocal on my decisions, and people and my path are beginning to understand. It’s a process, but it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation

How was it like to be in like an almost all female family?

I think it’s a very rare thing in Indonesia. I come from an almost all-female family of 20 people of which I think 15 are women, down to my nieces. Those who are my age or from the first generation, are for the most part entrepreneurs or professionals. I am so lucky because I grew up with so many women that started from zero, made way through their adversities, and are now successful in their respective fields, which makes it difficult for me to comprehend when people stigmatize what I can or cannot do. I don’t know how I could have lived a different life, for example if I was to be born in a family that was not supportive of my career.

I grew up not knowing that there was adversity surrounding gender until I started working. I saw people in my family that were the only women in male-dominated fields and I thought that was normal. I realized soon enough that that was actually fought for, and that they worked hard in their careers to prove themselves and get to where they are. With most businesses still very much traditional in Indonesia, I think they had to work twice as hard. It’s definitely inspiring to be surrounded by very opinionated and powerful women, but it can also be very intense. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Who are the biggest role models in your life?

Definitely my grandmother. My grandma is 92 and she’s still working. She started her business in the garage, building the family business from scratch. She was very strong-minded, yet humble and so inclusive of her team and I think that’s what got her so far. She is a huge advocate for gender inclusivity and women in the workplace and she has taught me the importance of this from as far I could remember.

She started her career in the 1950s where gender inclusivity is nonexistent. She grew up during the Dutch colony, where women did not have access to schools and weren’t allowed to work. But she was fortunate enough to marry my grandfather who was always very open minded and actually helped her grow her business from very early on in their marriage, so in a way that was equally as important people closest to her. I definitely saw that was extremely inspiring, having a husband that was supportive to her pursuits, being rejected my hundreds of stakeholders from banks to investors but continuing to move forward, and having an open mind to continue learning and growing even at 92. She is very inspiring.  

Where do you want to be in 10 years? What’s your vision for yourself?

Maybe in the next 10 years I have founded a company in a field that I am passionate about. My hope is to bring gender diversity and inclusivity in anything that I do, so I hope to instill that as part of my vision.

Do you have any message for girls who want to start their own startups too and maybe encourage them to how they start their own startup or vc or in this industry.

I think my only advice is to just do it. The best pursuits often take a (giant) leap of faith and you never know what you’re up against unless you start, because that’s one of the most difficult parts.

Putri Athira: Founder of Her Dreams

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Putri Athira and I’m the founder of HerDreams. It started from my dreams to contribute to the education sector for girls, specifically for unfortunate girls. Back then, I was confused about my job and what to do in life. I’ve always dreamt of building a school for unfortunate children in Indonesia, but then to build a school would require more money and resources than I had. Still, doing something for girls and contributing to their educations doesn’t necessarily have to be done through building schools. I realized that I could share my own experiences and dreams with other girls and motivate them to reach their dreams also.

At that event, we share about how important it is to have a dream, and we teach them how to make a dream map – a visualization of your goals and future. We believe that if you write out your dreams and see them everyday, you can motivate yourself towards your goals. We also emphasize the importance of having dreams. Next, we teach them confidence and public speaking. Thirdly, we emphasize independence. We summarize all the materials that we have taught them during the program and contextualize it to being brave and independent. We share the value of independence, how to lead, and how to communicate with people.

Why is educating girls in ambition, confidence, and independence so necessary? Especially in Indonesia?

Before I started HerDreams, I visited some schools. I met many different girls, and they all really lacked motivation. They have dreams, but they were scared to pursue them because their surroundings were unsupportive and so they thought they could not achieve those dreams. So what I saw was that they needed some external motivation in order to believe in themselves. From there, I realized that the main foundation to be brave enough to pursue one’s dreams is confidence. That way, at the end of day, they can be independent.

What are some success stories from the program?

During one session, we told one of the girls to present their dream map and explain it to the audience. But there was one girl who cried due to a lack of confidence. She was afraid that her friends would laugh at her. After that incident, our team discussed internally and realized that girls not only need to have a dream, but they also need to be confident. Because of that situation, we added another session because we believed that changes don’t happen overnight, you know? After the end of the third session, we saw that the girl who had cried before became more active. She became more of a believer in herself, especially after other girls told her how cool her dream map was. She really wanted to be a designer.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle that Indonesian girls and women face nowadays?

I think the biggest hurdle is finding support because, as you know, many Indonesians tend to see women differently. People question what a woman will do with a higher education because at the end of the day, you’re going to be a housewife and you don’t need to have like a higher education to do that. But I think that’s wrong. Even to be a good housewife, you need a good education as well. And that’s the problem. We see in every session, every girl that we meet, their families are not really being supportive of them. That’s what is holding them back from pursuing their dreams.

Do you yourself face any challenges in the workplace or in finding support for pursuing your own dreams?

At first, yes. My family is very supportive with regards to education. But in choosing a career, it was different. I always had dreams to become a diplomat, to go abroad. But then, my family reminded me that I still need to think about my future regarding the way I take care of my future family. So when I was in the stage to choose the priorities I have in life, including my job choice, I came to the conclusion to hold myself back from that job and find another way to fulfill my passion.

How did you personally deal with not being able to pursue your dreams in diplomacy?

The main reason I wanted to become a diplomat was because I really want to represent my country. I really want to engage with other people and help others in many sectors.. But by the time, I realized that it is not the only way to fulfill my passion, I could still help others and share what I have in a different way. So rather than doing it through diplomacy, I’m doing it through HerDreams instead.

What’s your goal for HerDreams in the next few years?

I really want to reach more schools and more girls, not only in Jakarta area but all across Indonesia. I hope that in the next few years we can also go abroad and contribute to girls education with other communities or organizations. And I really hope that there will be more volunteers involved. Currently, we have almost 200 volunteers in our community, with almost 80 school girls in our program and an international organization that has partnered with us to help motivate the girls – including refugees that live in Indonesia.

What issues do female refugees face specifically?

They struggle to find the spirit to live out their dreams again; here in Indonesia, they don’t have opportunities to pursue their dreams because they cannot work and go to school here. So we have to motivate them; they have to believe in themselves and believe that something good will happen to them after this stage of their life in Indonesia.

How do you balance between a day job and running HerDreams?  

It’s all about time management. I always conduct program sessions on weekends, so I still can manage the needs of HerDreams and my day job. And also the matter of communication with my partners, the arrangement of the meeting time and the preparation.

What are the biggest challenges you face in running HerDreams?

So far, perhaps is the financial support. It is because nowadays, in Indonesia there are not many companies that willing to help. We still depend on personal donors, so yes, I think that’s the biggest challenges right now. However, in the matter of man support, we are not worried. Currently, we have almost 200 volunteers that have been registered in HerDreams. And seeing that enthusiasm, we still believe that there are still a lot of young people out there, both men and women who really want to help and contribute together with HerDreams.

Do you have any advice for other girls who want to become leaders or start their own organizations?

What matters most are to know what you are capable of, the problems you want to solve in the community, and to be focused. Because to build this kind of movement, you need to be focused on what problems you want to solve and how you will help. You must be focused and consistent in what you do, so your help will give a significant change in the community.