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Training Module and Training Tools Development for Women-led Small Businesses


There are significantly more women who use informal financial services (including money lenders, relatives, or other organizations not regulated by Bank Indonesia or OJK) (49%) compared to their male counterparts (29%), and men use banking services 3% more on average than women. However, women continue to be disproportionately affected by barriers to financial inclusion and access to financial services. Lack of inclusion and access inhibits their participation in the economy and impedes them from improving their lives and the well-being of their families and communities. Financial inclusion is critical not only for individuals but also for businesses to thrive. Of the approximately 60 million businesses in Indonesia, 99% are micro, small, and medium businesses[1], the vast majority (98.75%) of which are micro-businesses (1- 4 employees). These small businesses account for 76% of employment nationwide and contribute to the Indonesian economy.

Furthermore, despite improvements in access to the formal financial system in Indonesia, women living in rural areas face considerable challenges in accessing formal financial services due to a lack of trust in financial institutions, lack of access to information and knowledge about financial products and services, social and cultural barriers, perceived high costs, or lack of formal financial institutions in rural areas and lack of interest among formal financial institutions to serve this segment. In addition, small women entrepreneurs’ usage of digital financial services (offered by formal financial institutions) is also very low.

Based on Central Bank of Indonesia data in 2018, 37 million or 60% of MSEs are women-led small businesses. So, for women-led small businesses in rural areas, in addition to addressing policy and infrastructure challenges, branchless banking agents are a solution to limited financial inclusion. It provides easy and inexpensive financial access and various financial benefits. A human connection to the branchless banking agent is a step toward familiarizing the process with the digital account. However, this also creates a dependency of the women customers on their agents, so it would be beneficial for women small business owners to receive follow-up training on digital technology after financial literacy training and introduction to branchless banking products.

Mercy Corps Indonesia (MCI) is committed to continuously contributing to supporting the development of this sustainable agent network in providing services to the larger community, increasing women-led small business economic empowerment through financial inclusion, and contributing to help boost financial inclusion to its 2024 target of 90%.


MCI will support 750 women-led small businesses over three years to improve their business practices, create 10% more jobs and increase profits by 15% through improved access to digital financial services and digital mentoring between 2021-2024. The theory of change hypothesizes that: IF women-led small businesses improve their business practices; IF women-led small businesses improve their access to market and financial services; and IF women-led small businesses improve their access to digital mentoring, THEN women-led small businesses can develop a profitable business, contributing to job creation and bettering their family’s well-being.

The proposed initiative aims to empower 750 women-led small businesses through digital literacy, digital business mentoring, and digital financial services. To achieve the goal, MCI expects to leverage the existing agents in Greater Malang (Malang City and Malang District) and East Java Province to engage and share knowledge and technical skills in digital financial services with women-led small businesses. Simultaneously, the program expects to improve digital literacy, business skills, and cybersecurity through MicroMentor Indonesia’s (MMI) online platform mentoring system. The digital mentoring intervention is expected to support women-led small businesses’ confidence in using digital financial services provided by the agents’ network. In the end, it will contribute to the improvement of their business profits.


Women-led small businesses in Malang City and Malang Regency can improve their business practice, create 10% more jobs, and increase profit by 15%. The target of the program is to assist 750 women-led small businesses of which 20% are youth aged 19-30 years.

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