20 July 2017 | Report

Women and Entrepreneurship in Indonesia


The report finds that in 2013 there were around 59 million enterprises in Indonesia. An estimated 1% of these businesses were classified as small, and 0.1% were classified as medium. 98.8% were classified as micro enterprises. While SMEs have small organisations and thus tend to employ fewer people, the collective contribution of SMEs to employment in the country is significant. In 2013 SMEs accounted for over 8% of jobs in Indonesia whereas large enterprises contributed just 3%.

The report defines Women’s SMEs as a business:

  • where 51% of ownership is held by a woman or women; or
  • where 20% of ownership is held by a woman or women, where a woman holds a major leadership position (CEO/COO or president/vice president), and where 30% of the board of directors is composed of women

Based on available data, it is estimated that there are around 170,300 WSMEs in Indonesia, comprising around one in four of all SMEs in the country. Research has shown that WSMEs tend to employ more women than businesses run by men, therefore there is potential that increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in Indonesia will have the added effect of increasing the rate of paid employment among women.

The report indicates the need to support the transition of micro enterprises to small businesses, and for small businesses, in turn, to further grow into medium and large enterprises. The transition of businesses within this enterprise pipeline requires significant managerial, technological, and financial resources, which tend to be scarce in developing and emerging economies. This resource gap signals a critical opportunity for investors to play an important role not only in SME development, but also in raising the economic participation rate of women as business owners and employers in Indonesia.


Vietnam adopted many of the key global standards on women and work for the first time in the past decade following a political shake-up in 2006. Additional protections under Vietnamese law include paid paternity/parental leave and paid menstruation leave, advocacy programs to promote gender equality, fair and equal treatment of domestic workers and ongoing efforts to eliminate sexual harassment and violence against women.

However, difficulties associated with enforcement of these laws and standards on women and work present a major problem in countries such as Vietnam, where many women work in informal sector occupations and few resources are allocated for labour inspections even within the formal sector. In the absence of more effective monitoring by governments, the onus for compliance falls primarily on individual companies that do not always meet their legal obligations

Without concrete measures to enforce legislation and change workplace culture, pregnancy, childcare, and family responsibilities continue to be significant barriers to women’s career development, and women continue to be vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace.




  • International standards
  • ILO conventions and CEDAW
  • Diffusion of international norms
  • Problems with enforcement

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