Undeterred by COVID-19, more than 5,000 women Acquire Entrepreneurial Skills from UN Women and Sunlight Initiative

Date: Friday, July 17, 2020

For immediate release

A WeLearn participant in Yogyakarta received one-on-one mentoring session with her trainer in February 2020. Photo credit: UN Women/Ariyanto Nugroho.

Jakarta, 16 July 2020 – More than 5,000 women across Indonesia have increased entrepreneurial skills from series of learnings through WeLearn, a digital platform. WeLearn platform is an initiative by UN Women with the support from Sunlight, a brand of PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk, that aims to improve equal learning opportunities to empower women who want to start or grow their business. The WeLearn initiative equipped women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with business and digital skills necessary to adapt to changing world of work and market development, including in this current COVID-19 crisis.

This crisis has hit Indonesia’s smaller businesses especially hard. Social distancing edicts in cities have forced owners to close shops and they have faced sharp decline in sales. However, this crisis also created a new opportunity and demand for online training which resulted in growing numbers of women registering in WeLearn training particularly in the last few months and this continues to grow. 

“During this pandemic, my sales were declining, but I use my time to join learning sessions and virtual gathering from business networks that I know from WeLearn. WeLearn did not only equipped me with necessary skills on entrepreneurship, but through its sessions, I met a network of women entrepreneurs and potential investors for my business,” said Vidi A. Damayanti, WeLearn participant from Jakarta and the owner of Mamaibu Chicken Wings.

In Indonesia, 64.5 per cent of registered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is managed by women[1]. However, compared to business initiated by men, women-led MSMEs tend to be concentrated in the low productivity, low value sectors, especially in the trade and services sector[2]. In practice, women entrepreneurs often face barriers in developing their businesses, including burden of unpaid care and domestic work, fewer opportunities to join business networks and in accessing skills development.

“Investing in women’s economic empowerment and skills development is an effective means to drive progress on gender equality and inclusive economic growth - such smart and long-term investments make a big difference especially during times of crisis when women’s ingenuity and resilience helps to turn some of the adversity into opportunities for recovery and building back better,” said Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Country Representative and Liaison to ASEAN. “We are pleased to see that through WeLearn Initiative, and particularly during the pandemic, we have been able to empower more women than expected by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to the existing and future challenges in order to transform their lives, families, and communities.” 

Veronica Utami, Director of Home Care of PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk said, “Unilever Indonesia has been accompanying the Indonesian society for 86 years. Throughout the years, we remained committed to bring positive changes for the society and help the government moving the economy through various efforts, including through empowering MSMEs as the backbone of the nation’s economy, particularly the women-led MSMEs. Our collaboration with UN Women in shaping WeLearn is in line with Sunlight’s brand purpose to unleash the untapped potential of women. By 2022, we hope to help 5 million Indonesian women discover their limitless potential and achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. We believe, amid this pandemic situation, opportunities for women to learn should never be closed.”  

Since October 2019, WeLearn facilitates various learning sessions for women micro-entrepreneurs, including self-paced online learning course through WeLearn website, tutored online training sessions via Whatsapp and Zoom, and in-person offline training and mentoring sessions. Through these sessions, women entrepreneurs were trained to better manage their businesses, get greater economic benefit from their activities, and to learn from one another. 

Based on the Business Check Up survey filled in by a cohort of 50 participants before and after the project, WeLearn has proven to contribute positively to improve their entrepreneurship skills:

  • 98 per cent of participants have mastered basic financial management skills (i.e. own a separate business bank account, able to generate simple financial report), compared to 35 per cent before the project
  • 63 per cent of participants have improved their operational management (i.e. develop standard of operational procedure (SOP), set a standard quality for raw materials, compared to 24% before the project
  • 88 per cent of participants have proceed to get legal business permits and certifications for their businesses
  • 99 per cent of participants have implemented marketing strategies, including devising digital marketing strategies

In addition, WeLearn managed to support women in becoming more confident, knowledgeable, and skilful in achieving their business goals, as evident from the online pre and post-test survey filled by the participants.

The key results of WeLearn project were shared during the virtual discussion on “Women Economic Empowerment: Realizing Equal Access and Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs” held today. During the same occasion, UN Women also announced the graduation of 50 women entrepreneur finalists from three cities (Greater Jakarta, Malang, Jogjakarta) who have completed four months of intensive training under the project. 

In the upcoming months, WeLearn plans to expand its online learning materials on different topics related to entrepreneurship, as well as to connect more women micro-entrepreneurs to financial institutions.

 

Media Contact 

  • UN Women: Radhiska Anggiana | Email: radhiska.anggiana@unwomen.org
  • Unilever: Adisty Nilasari I Email: adisty.nilasari@unilever.com
 
About UN Women 
UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women’s rights worldwide. UN Women’s efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development. 

About WeLearn 
WeLearn is an online learning platform, powered by UN Women, for women entrepreneurs and for women who aspire to start their own business. WeLearn provides free, easy-to-use, interactive learning courses, providing A to Z learning paths, to equip women with the skills and knowledge to transform their dreams into business success. The content is co-designed by women entrepreneurs and aggregated in partnership with industry experts. The platform can be accessed on: welearn.unwomen.org.
 
About PT Unilever Indonesia, Tbk 
PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk has been operating since 1933 and is the leading fast moving consumer goods company in Indonesia. Unilever Indonesia proudly sponsors 42 brands that is divided into 2 segments, namely Home & Personal Care (“HPC”) and Food & Refreshment (“F&R”). Unilever Indonesia became publicly listed in 1982 and its shares are listed and traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange. 

Unilever is strongly committed to move forward together with Indonesia. For the period ended on 31 March 2020, the Company’s net sales reached IDR 11.2 trillion where HPC and F&R net sales are IDR 7.9 trillion and IDR 3.3 trillion respectively. Net profit of the Company reached IDR 1.8 trillion. 

Unilever has nine factories, which are located in Cikarang and Rungkut, all factories have obtained Halal certification from the Indonesian Council of Ulama. 

Globally, in 2010 Unilever launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) is our blueprint for achieving our vision to grow our business, whilst decoupling our environmental footprint from our growth and increasing our positive social impact. USLP has three main goals: 
  1. Improving health of 1 billion people in 2020 
  2. Halve the environmental footprint of its business operations in 2030 
  3. Enhancing livelihoods of millions of people in 2020 

For further information about USLP achievements please visit: www.unilever.co.id/sustainable-living/ and for other information about Unilever Indonesia and brand, please visit: www.unilever.co.id and our social media assets Twitter and Instagram @UnileverIDN, Facebook Unilever ID dan YouTube Unilever Indonesia 

 

 


[1] National Bureau of of Statistics, 2018.

[2] World Bank, 2016