Indonesia, like much of the world, is in the midst of another COVID-19 spike. The pandemic has made its way to the most remote areas of the country. I recently returned to my hometown and started to work with Kopernik from Tuban, East Java, where the pandemic feels very real, and very close.
With the rapid spread of the Delta variant, the government has reinstated movement restrictions through the ‘Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat’ (PPKM). The spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia and PPKM restrictions have had a major impact on the nation’s economy. Many employees were laid-off, businesses have collapsed and many micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have closed - at least temporarily. Bank Indonesia reports that as many as 87.5 percent of MSMEs have been negatively impacted.
Entrepreneurs participating in the Wonder Women program are facing challenges in their businesses due to the current COVID movement restrictions.
The women micro-entrepreneurs in Tuban, East Java who are part of Kopernik’s Wonder Women program - are also impacted by the movement restrictions. Many entrepreneurs are struggling to continue to run their businesses, due to loss of sales through their usual channels (for example souvenir shops - where many of their products such as snacks, batik, and other handicrafts are sold - are temporarily closed). Others have had to stop working because they or their family members got sick.
To support the entrepreneurs during these difficult times, we have been working with them to expand their market access through making their products available online, given the rapid growth of online purchases during the pandemic. There are some challenges to getting the businesses online, including unstable and limited internet connection, limited access to viable shipping services for product delivery, and a big learning curve for the entrepreneurs as they navigate the new technology and systems. Despite these challenges, the Wonder Women are highly motivated, not afraid to learn new skills, and are determined to ensure their businesses survive.
Online training with the entrepreneurs conducted via zoom.
We conducted online marketing training with 100 women entrepreneurs, through 10 separate sessions (with 10 participants in each session to ensure a high level of engagement) via Zoom - given the restrictions currently in place. The training covered the basics of online marketing, including marketing using social media platforms. Immediately following the training sessions, most of the participants created their own marketing strategies and developed content for their products to promote on social media. WhatsApp and Facebook are the two most commonly used social media channels by the entrepreneurs participating in the program but other platforms are also utilized - for example, Ibu Sholihatul Aida, has created a YouTube channel to promote her knitwear brand - AIDA Collection.
To further support the women’s businesses, we have established a ‘digital warung’ - an online marketplace - @warungibuinspirasi on Instagram to introduce and promote their products to further expand their market access. A variety of snacks, handicrafts, batik, and other products made by women micro-entrepreneurs are available on the @warungibuinspriasi account.
Warung Ibu Inspirasi - a digital ‘warung’ to promote the Wonder Women’s products and businesses.
You can support the Wonder Women entrepreneurs and their businesses by purchasing their products at @warungibuinspirasi.
The Wonder Women program is supported by the Women’s Economic Empowerment Program of the ExxonMobil Foundation.