Susi’s story

Susi took part in all three of our flagship programmes through our WEAVE initiative. With our support, she turned her passion for Japanese food and culture into a thriving enterprise.

Programme

WEAVE

Date

2020-2021

Location

West Java, Indonesia

Given the opportunity, women can not only support their children, but their entire family – especially if we have skills in business. That’s why it’s so important to support women entrepreneurs.

Susi Lawati, founder of Dapur Sakura, and WEAVE alumna

Susi Lawati is an entrepreneur based in West Java, Indonesia. She is the founder of Japanese restaurant Dapur Sakura and is on a mission to introduce authentic Japanese food to Indonesia. In 2020, as she set her business up, she became one of 12,000 women entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Indonesia trained through our WEAVE project with USAID and Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™. Our programmes supported her to successfully start and build her business – in the midst of a pandemic.

My name is Susi. I am an entrepreneur, a homemaker, a Japanese linguist, a mother of three, and currently run a business called Dapur Sakura.

I’m from Indonesia but I’ve studied and lived in Tokyo and Osaka on and off from 2002 to 2018. While there, I learned not only the language, but the culture, especially the food. It’s a real passion of mine.

In November 2020, two years after returning to Indonesia, I started my business with the goal of introducing halal-style, home-cooked Japanese cuisine to Indonesia. Most of the Japanese restaurants in Indonesia aren’t selling authentic Japanese food, but because my two staff members and I have all lived in Japan and learned directly from the locals, we’re able to create products that capture the true essence of the country’s cuisine. My team and I sell fast food such as chicken karage, chicken katsu, korokke, and beef teriyaki in the form of a bento, which consists of rice and salad packed in a typical Japanese container. There is a cultural education embedded in our products!

As a woman, it’s hard to be trying to build a business whilst having to juggle work and family, and there’s a success gap due to people’s assumptions that men are better in business than women. It’s also more difficult to access finance. But using the HerVenture app, participating in the Road to Growth program, and having access to a mentor has changed my business for the better. Originally, I founded my business to fulfil a personal goal and was backed only by my passion, courage, and very little capital. I didn’t have a clear vision or mission for the long term, but with these resources, I am able to plan strategically for the future and think about what I want to accomplish and how I can achieve that.

With these resources, I am able to plan strategically for the future and think about what I want to accomplish and how I can achieve that

HerVenture showed me how to make the right decisions, which is great for everyone starting a business. It’s very handy in my opinion. And through building a network and working directly with Road to Growth trainers, I’m gaining confidence as a business owner. Being able to ask the trainers questions during our weekly meetings and engage with other participants as they troubleshoot their own obstacles has helped me develop and understand my business.

After joining the Road to Growth program, I’ve increased my sales rates and learned how to broaden and streamline my distribution to accommodate fluctuating markets. I live in a touristy area, so during the pandemic, my sales rates decreased. To counteract that, I began marketing frozen food so my sales would remain stable. The Road to Growth program also taught me how to save money and precisely record my expenses and income.

After this, I was paired with a mentor from Australia. She was very understanding of my difficulties in using English and accommodating of my tight scheduling! We usually met on Fridays, sharing our experiences of running a business. Whenever I had any troubles, questions or ideas, I had her to work through them with, and she would provide input and solutions. Through mentoring, I also received personal support and found in my mentor a sort of “sharing partner” which was very beneficial to my business development.

I hope that my business can expand into several branch outlets in various regions and that my frozen food can be packaged for big supermarkets. I’d like to expand so that I can create more job opportunities for people in need and educate more people about Japanese culture through cuisine that is both authentic and halal. I also hope to sell Japanese newspapers and books so I can spread appreciation for Japanese culture through more than just food.

I’d like to use the knowledge I’ve gained throughout the process of growing my business to advise Indonesian women to remain optimistic and strategic through times of difficulty like the pandemic. Given the opportunity, women can not only support their children, but their entire family – especially if we have skills in business. That’s why it’s so important to support women entrepreneurs. There’s an assumption that women are too busy with family or aren’t as capable as men or are too emotional to make logical decisions. But with the right business skills and resources, we can be leaders.

Made possible by...

WEAVE was delivered collaboratively by the Foundation, Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, and local, in-country implementing partners Kinara (Indonesia) and WISE (Vietnam). The contract was awarded by the ASEAN-USAID Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade, and E-Commerce (ASEAN-USAID IGNITE) program, a USAID-funded activity.