The Jakarta Post
The global COVID-19 pandemic has badly hit the entrepreneur school (SWA) of ‘Aisyiyah, the women’s wing of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah.
Since the pandemic broke out in the country earlier this year and forced people to study and from home, ‘Aisyiyah has not been able to carry out face-to-face learning for SWA.
“Responding to this, ‘Aisyiyah’s manpower and economic council [MEK PPA] has prepared a guideline for an online SWA as an alternative,” the council’s deputy chairwoman Laras Wiendyawati said in her remarks at a virtual launching ceremony of the program on Saturday.
Laras said that as of February, ‘Aisyiyah’s SWA had been conducted in 25 regencies and cities across the country, resulting in almost 1,600 alumni in total.
The program was completely stopped over fears of spreading COVID-19.
Considering the positive impacts that the SWA has had, especially in terms of empowering women entrepreneurs to be independent, creative and able to compete in the global era, MEK PPA finally came up with the idea of conducting the school online.
“In a situation like this, we have to be adaptive, transformative and collaborative,” Laras told the virtual forum, which was joined by representatives of the organization’s provincial and regency/city branches.
‘Aisyiyah’s deputy chairman overseeing economy Latifah Iskandar concurred, saying that the organization’s strength lay in its network, which was well-structured down to the village level.
She said ‘Aisyiyah had 480 branches, but some 50 percent of their workforce and economic councils were connected to social media.
She also underlined why the SWA was needed in this time of the global pandemic.
“It’s time for us, in this time of COVID-19, to make a lineup, not a crowd,” she said, adding that only that way, true economic independence could be created.
Meanwhile, Trias Setiawati of MEK PPA’s entrepreneurship division said the SWA was established in a bid to help improve women’s prosperity as part of the organization’s efforts to grow entrepreneurship through the strengthening of small and medium enterprises (SME) managed by women.
“That way women will be able to fight for their rights and interests,” she said, adding that the SWA offered alternatives amid a lack of formal and non-formal educational institutions providing entrepreneurship education using a mentoring method.
Trias said the number of entrepreneurs in Indonesia was only 3.5 percent of its population, thus lower than that of Malaysia’s, which was 5 percent, Singapore’s 7 percent, China’s 10 percent, Japan’s 11 percent and the United States’ 12 percent.
For a pilot project of the program, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, has been appointed to have the Online SWA from Dec. 26 to Jan. 9, 2021. The program is to be held in three meetings in total every Saturday morning for three to four hours per meeting.
Twenty-nine people have registered for the program, which will feature experienced business practitioners as mentors.
“I am interested in joining the SWA because I want to have a practical knowledge on how to be a successful entrepreneur from experienced sources,” Retnani Paraningsih of Nogotirto, Gamping, Sleman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. (swa)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.