Usaha Wanita, a mobile phone service developed by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation, Indosat and Nokia has received the Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award. The application is part of a two-year project, made possible by an ExxonMobil Foundation grant of US$1.5 million to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, to demonstrate how mobile phone technology can address common business challenges women entrepreneurs are facing and help them develop, grow and manage their businesses more effectively.
Amisha Chalid, based in Jakarta, makes and sells made-to-measure wedding dresses. She has been in the industry for 13 years and her shop has had a constant stream of customers since opening 3 years ago. However, Amisha explained to researchers that, along with marketing, one of the biggest challenges she faces is sourcing quality materials at affordable prices. Amisha wants to grow her business and compete with importers who offer wedding dresses at more competitive rates, but she would benefit from information to help guide her in her efforts to lower her costs and expand her enterprise.
The Usaha Wanita service was designed with women like Amisha in mind. It provides access to information about how to work with traders, improve distribution channels and tap into valuable existing networks, all of which will support women entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.
The Usaha Wanita service is available to all Indonesians and is being used in conjunction with hands-on business development training delivered by Mercy Corps Indonesia to 2,000 Indonesian women entrepreneurs.