UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: Veronika Linardi: CEO of Qareer Group Asia

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Veronika Linardi and I’m the CEO of Qareer Group Asia.

What got you into entrepreneurship? When did the entrepreneur bug bite you?

I returned from America to help with my family’s manufacturing business. I didn’t enjoy it so much. However, my brothers were interested and succeeding in it. Hence, I felt a freedom to find another career.

I looked at work within multinational companies in Hong Kong and Singapore, but my parents really wanted me to be close by. I therefore joined an industrial conglomerate to do strategic planning in Jakarta. It was a great learning opportunity for me, giving me a helicopter view of diverse industries. Working for Charoen Pokphand, I was exposed to diverse fields, including chicken feed, shrimp farms and telecommunications. It was – such a variety! However, I felt I should pursue something related to my passion: people.

I decided to venture out on my own, leveraging my core competency: connecting good people with corporate organizations, a.k.a. headhunting.

My parents didn’t approve initially; like most Indonesian parents, they wanted me to settle down young. They suggested I help my brother with his new business. I forged on alone. I flourished! Now, my parents are very proud of me.

How did you find the courage to start a business as a young person?

I was lucky to have the family business to fall back on. I was also young and still living at home. Initially, there wasn’t a stable income, but as my reputation grew, satisfied clients gave me more business. It’s all about managing expectations; under-selling and over-delivering – so people trust me.

What does success mean to you?

I define success by knowing oneself and measuring up against my own benchmarks – not other people’s. Needs evolve over time, but we’re only in competition with ourselves. We should always be thankful and happy about how far we have come.

Success is to be grateful for what we have and yet, always, see ourselves as a work in progress. Success is to be bold, to expand beyond our boundaries and create our very own legacy.

Do you have any role models?

My parents.

My mother is a hard worker. When she was young, she had to overcame a lot of discrimination related to gender and race to become a Doctor. Then when I went to school in Singapore, she gave up her ambition and career to take care of us (her children). How Great a Mother’s Love is!

My dad was a self-learner. Unlike my mom who always stayed in school and received scholarships throughout her life, whereas my dad learnt everything on his own. My dad taught himself Mandarin and other Chinese dialects. His ever curious and persevering spirit propels me to continuously improve.

What are your passions?

I love helping people. Through headhunting, I am able to match jobs with people and their passions. It’s rewarding because I get a sense of achievement for recommending talent to flourish in the careers they love. My friends often tease me, calling me a matchmaker (playing cupid for both careers and love life), and I made a career out of it!

I also love food. Good food and great company always brings family and friends together!

Have you faced any obstacle or challenge because of your gender?

I grew up with two brothers who treated me like an equal, so I had to be creative and resourceful to get things done. I feel I’ve been raised in a way that considers men and women as complementary in many ways and have respective duties and responsibilities.

How is Indonesia in terms of gender progressivity in the workplace?

In Asia especially, there are expectations about women. In Indonesia, despite women being seen as primary caregivers in the family context, there are many women leaders heralding business organizations. I also belong to an entrepreneurial organization where women account for 40% of the membership. In other countries, there may not be a single female member.

You can still flourish in Indonesia because we have the right support network: our parents, in-laws — even nannies here are affordable compared to other countries. In addition, having had a female President really makes a difference.

As a woman in Indonesia, people tell you to start small. How did you dream big?

You have to start somewhere, but you must reverse engineer. Think baby steps on how you can grow. I started with Linardi Associates, my headhunting agency. Over time, my contact base grew. Satisfied clients became friends; some also became investors. Today, we connect millions of professionals to the careers of their dreams.

I believe that you are first and foremost accountable to yourself. There are responsibilities and priorities but you can always go back to your dream. Women who have children can still return to work and flourish in their careers.

Can you share some of the milestones that your company has achieved?

The first was establishing Qerja.com, which improves transparency in workplace and reduced the taboo of discussing salaries. From my headhunting days, I knew that many fresh graduates felt a sense of urgency to quickly secure their first job. However, many have little understanding of their strengths and ambition hence often felt dissatisfied because their expectation of first job is far away from the reality of their job.

Another milestone was when we launched Jobs.id, securing Series A funding from SB ISAT Fund. And very recently acquired Karir.com and secured our Series B funding from Emtek group.

Wealth can mean so many things: money, fame, knowledge…. What does it mean to you?

Money is important as a means of exchange to help us enjoy life, the conveniences money can buy as well as to utilize these resources as a means to further our end goals. Wealth means peace at heart and contentment. Some of my team members buy their families budget trips overseas, sharing what they have with their loved ones. I feel that having such purity in your heart is the basis of being wealthy.

Do you have any advice for young women who want to live their dreams?

Yes – follow your heart’s desires while you are young. Some things can wait, but I believe that at every stage of life, you can always choose to focus on your priorities, whatever they are.


 

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.

UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: Evy & Mulyati Gozali: Co-Founders of Sababay Winery

Tell us about your journeys.

Mulyati Gozali (Mother): I love Indonesia: it’s culturally rich and people are kind. For decades, I worked in a public company dealing with tire factories, petrochemicals and mining. I decided that I didn’t just want a pension; I wanted to reach more for people and at the same time to teach my daughter to be strong, meet challenges and turn the tables in her favor.

Evy Gozali (Daughter): I worked in a Kalimantan mining company and I didn’t like it! I was happy to move to Bali with mom and become an entrepreneur.

Why did you choose the wine industry?

MG: First, I considered property; however, I really care about helping others. Sometimes, I’d do a road trip from South Bali to East Bali to see what it offered. While rich in natural resources, farmers were poor because they didn’t have fair pricing. The middlemen bought their crops; no one would buy direct. Farmers would leave ripe fruit hanging as they couldn’t get a good price.

We conducted an extensive field analysis. Indonesia saw 10 million tourists in 2015 annually, half of them in Bali. They spent around USD 140 daily – IDR 32 trillion per year – but Bali’s national income was only IDR 4 trillion. Why? Bali imports commodities like fruit, beef, and rice. The money went straight overseas.

So I thought, okay, that’s a problem. Most Balinese live on the 90% of land that tourists never visit, where farmers should be planting the fruit instead of us importing it. There was no ‘bridge’ between rural farmers and their markets, so, I built one: Sababay. Now farmers come to our winery to make wine. In 2015, based on Bali tourism data, 21 million litres of wine are consumed annually, only 1% made locally. In 2017, it grew to 25%.

Why is it so necessary to create businesses in Bali? What is the situation in Indonesia?

MG: People in rural Bali have little money. Approximately 60% have only been educated to middle- and elementary school. High school leavers only earn min wage of 2,7 mio rupiah which is about IDR 27 million Rupiah (roughly USD 1,846) annually. Just 10% of Indonesians can afford decent education to get high-level jobs, like banking. Only now is the President introducing free education.

How is working with your daughter, compared to other staff?

MG: It’s the same. I gave my daughter the required education, and she studied just like the other staff.

How is working with your mother?

EG: I was given the opportunity to run the business as the CEO as I co-founded the business. I know I skipped many steps that people go through in this industry, so I have a lot to learn. I like working with her because it feels natural. We’re a business, yet we have a family culture. I understand her vision and mission. Her passion in agriculture potentials, I learn so much from her, we share the same values and she listens to me too.

What challenges and hurdles have you faced while starting your company?

MG: In Indonesia, the alcohol industry can be viewed negatively. I knew Bali was good for grapes and that I could help people through income from wine production. I called a French winemaker to work with our local team for transferring technology and presented to the government the grape potentials and how farmers can benefit from the partnership.

There is a kilo of grapes in a bottle of wine. After I presented to the government they said: “We have grapes?” “Yes”, I replied, then told them about the 2000 hectares of lands belong to grape growers and that if the grapes weren’t sold, they would become cow food and they remain underprivileged. It still took three years to get the license.

You had no previous wine experience; how did you acquire this knowledge?

MG: If you are focused and determined to help people, you do your research then support will come from people with the same passions. We learn and share ideas and knowledges. Soon, I was teaching farmers how to manage plantations and harvests. Bali has the right kinds of grapes, but not the right industry.

EG: I’m glad that we can inspire others. We have so many capable Indonesians here, just from my mom’s crazy idea. She’s perfect for this job: well-connected and with a great eye for details. That’s how we do it!

What challenges do you face in this industry? How can other women learn from these?

MG: The wine industry has been male-dominated, but times are changing. Here at Sababay, we are training a female winemaker, a local one. I don’t think there’s any form of discrimination. We have women hand in hand working as a family. We just all learn along the way.

EG: We should all work together. As a woman, I can do anything, yet people sometimes see us as purely maternal figures. Indonesian women are strong – see the way they carry themselves and work. Sometimes, we take the responsibility of three people: a mother, wife and businesswoman. We’re changing roles constantly, which makes us tough.

What does wealth mean to you?

MG: I believe that all money and assets are gifts from God. Knowledge is a great asset that you use by teaching others. I wanted to share my abilities with farmers so they could prosper too.

What are your goals in life moving forward?

MG: I want to help this generation to bring Indonesia’s potentials forward by improving life for everyone. We must give back to our country.

What’s it like to have a mother that is so accomplished, ambitious and successful?

EG: I’m very blessed and proud to have a mother like her, but there’s also pressure because the next generation is supposed to do better. She built this for her children, grandchildren and her country. You see family wine businesses that are 200-years-old. We want to continue the legacy and benefit more people around us.

Do you have any words of advice to inspire other Indonesians?

MG: Indonesia has so much potential; the younger generation should tap into it. Bali is a really easy place to showcase products to tourists: local leaves and trees can be used for cosmetics, for example. People just need ideas, passions and integrity.

What would be your advice to other mother-daughter teams?

MG: Do not compete, because you and the next generation are different. You already have the experience, so share your knowledge and don’t expect younger people to know everything from the start.


 

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.

UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: Michelle Tjokrosaputro: CEO of PT. Efrata Retailindo & Founder of Bateeq

Tell us about yourself and how you started in business.

My name is Michelle Tjokrosaputro and I’m the CEO of PT. Efrata Retailindo, as well as Founder of the fashion line Bateeq.

In 2004, there was a big split in the family business and my father was handed the textile manufacturing business. At that time, I didn’t feel ready to join.

Unfortunately my father suffered multiple strokes. The doctor advised him to retire but our company was still recovering from the 1990s financial crisis. My father knew that without him the company would fold. So he asked me to help and I agreed.

How did you turn the business around? What challenges did you face?

In 2005, my father became paralyzed. The company had just laid off around 1,000 people due to its precarious financial situation and there was a strike. The factory descended into chaos.

I was lost. I majored in Business and Communications and didn’t know anything about textiles or running a factory. I told my parents, “I don’t know if I can make this work, maybe the factory will close. But I promise you one thing: I will fight to the end.”

Previously my father had run the factory almost single- handedly – he called all the shots. But I knew that I had to do it differently; after all, I didn’t have his qualifications and experience. I told my directors, “I don’t have all the answers but I’m here with you. With your experience, wisdom and knowledge, we will come through this together.” This collaborative approach helped us to turn the corner.

What does success mean to you?

My goal is to grow the company, so it has to be profitable. Statistics such as absolute sales and staff strength don’t overly concern me. What matters more is my employees’ wellbeing. Do they feel that they are being taken care of? Do they have the means to send their kids to school? I’m happy when my shareholders, customers and employees are happy.

How do you see the role you play in educating and nurturing future female business leaders and entrepreneurs?

Every year, I run leadership classes for about 100 employees – both women and men – to develop their professional and personal growth.

For the women specifically, I want to empower them to overcome societal expectations that make them feel guilty all the time. When women are at home, they feel guilty for missing work, and vice versa. This constant feeling of inadequacy erodes their confidence, and subsequently when women are paid less, they think that they deserve it.

To help my female employees cope better, I try to talk to them individually, not as a teacher or employer, but as a supportive friend.

Sometimes I try to help in other ways. Many of my workers are not financially savvy and make decisions they regret. So I give them simple money management advice; I bring in banks to educate them and to improve their financial literacy. This helps them to better manage their money.

Are there times when you felt that being a woman has helped you to overcome challenges in life or work?

It helps to be good at multi-tasking, and also having a woman’s compassion. I think it’s important to be able to empathize with people and to show that you genuinely care about them.

Are there any glass ceilings that exist in your industry for women leaders?

I don’t really feel that in my factory or in Indonesia; maybe it’s a different story elsewhere. For example, when I go to Japan or China, almost all the people I meet in leadership roles are men.

Then again, I just came back from a conference in Kenya, held by the International Textile Manufacturers Federation. I was elected to be the first and only woman on the board in its 114- year history, and the first Indonesian as well. So even when you think glass ceilings exist, it’s possible to break through them.

How do you juggle your personal and professional life?

Thankfully, I have a really supportive husband who encourages me to pursue my goals, but who also reminds me not to lose track of what’s truly important to me in life.

What’s your recipe for success?

You need to have the wisdom to make the right decision for yourself. It’s not just about profit or money; sometimes it’s a question of what’s in line with your values. For example, if I open more stores, I might be more successful financially, but I’d spend more time away from my children.

It’s about taking a holistic approach to your priorities in life. You should have strong values that anchor the decisions you make and guide the steps you take, going forward.

What would be your advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Know who you are, and what’s important to you. Then put in the effort to make it work.

Personally, I’m more focused on my work so I know I cannot be a stay-at-home mother, as much as I love my children.

To spend time with them, I fly back and forth a lot. I’m probably not as successful as other people who devote themselves entirely to work. But I don’t mind. The moments that I spend with my kids are precious to me, and they make everything worthwhile.


 

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.

UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight: Ayu Hakim: Owner of Rumah Maroko & 2Creatives Media

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ayu Hakim; I’m the owner of Rumah Maroko, an event space, and a mobile solutions business called 2Creatives Media.

What is something unique about you?

Well, in high school, I learned to fly a single engine plane before I got my driver’s license (laughs). My late father liked to dare me to do things, so it’s always been, “Yeah, why not? Why should I be scared?” He wanted me to be adventurous and courageous, for which I’m thankful. He made sure I knew that, as a woman, I shouldn’t be weak.

How have you applied those childhood lessons to your business?

With business, you need to network and socialize. I’m an introvert, but I pushed myself. When I started Rumah Maroko there was no marketing budget, so I would attend every event to promote it, guerrilla marketing-style. I was Managing Director, marketing and PR, so yes, my upbringing helped me venture beyond my comfort zone.

How did you get started with entrepreneurship?

My parents, grandparents, and even my grand-aunt were all entrepreneurs. I jumped into entrepreneurship early. Some say that doing business in Indonesia is difficult, but there are pros and cons. Compared to Singapore, setting up a business here takes longer, but there are many gray areas where you can be creative.

What’s it like to be a female entrepreneur in Indonesia?

In more developed nations, people talk about ‘glass ceilings’. Being a female entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean starting a huge company that will IPO; a secretary might sell home- made cookies in the office; housewives might sell prayer outfits or mats. Indonesian people are creative; it’s in our nature to be entrepreneurial at many different levels.

What’s next for Rumah Maroko?

My goal is for it to be a timeless rather than a trendy venue. People ask, “What’s your five year exit plan?” That’s very common in MBA classes. But I want something that endures, like Bluebird, Teh Sosro, Indomie, etc. The founders didn’t just think, “Okay, we’ll build this for five, ten years and then we’re done.” I want my business to always exist. Of course, you have to reinvent yourself and be flexible to survive.

What career milestones are you most proud of?

Founding Rumah Maroko wasn’t just about starting a business – I wanted to create something meaningful. Since 2004, Rumah Maroko has become a sort of landmark in Jakarta, especially for people in the events industry. To me, that’s quite an accomplishment, because we’re not tied to any big commercial name.

What challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?

Deciding to embark on this path was one of my first challenges. I was working in Australia, finding out what I was passionate about in business. I ended up having to choose between corporate life in Australia or returning home to pursue entrepreneurship – starting from zero.

I became an entrepreneur earlier than expected but, in life, nothing ever goes as planned. At this point, I don’t even bother to plan anymore (laughs).

Do you have any role models?

When I was at college, it was Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard; one of the first female tech bosses. In Indonesia, I admire the lady ministers, Susi Pudjiastuti and Sri Mulyani. They do more and talk less. You can see many progressive results of their actions today.

I also looked up to my grand-aunt, who lived to almost 95. That’s amazing in itself. When she was younger, she started a family business: she was a woman, a mother, a provider, and a store owner. Afterwards, she became a teacher – even in her late 80s, she was still teaching. She never slowed down. To me, that’s very inspiring.

What do wealth and success mean to you?

There are more important things than just money: wealth is your health, your energy, your life experiences. You can be wealthy, in financial terms, but you may have no time to

travel and your loved ones feel neglected. To me, that’s a poor life – surrounded by material objects but not the substantial matters. Wealth is holistic. Having time for loved ones and to do the things you love is also important.

What advice would you share with fellow women entrepreneurs?

The key is just to be. Don’t be apologetic, saying, “Oh, I can’t do this because I’m a woman,” or, “I’m sorry I’m a daughter and not a son.” Just be you and don’t feel guilty. Be as you are.

There are no such things as crazy ideas. Some people still think that being CEO is a man’s role. Just be persistent and go for it.

Sometimes, rather than breaking through obstacles, it’s better to be flexible, like water, to go around them. The key is to move forward. Don’t be apologetic and always know who you are.

Wherever you are, be you.


 

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.

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!

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 meredith@angin.id.

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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.