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Blair, Nokia, ISAT team up to empower women

The Jakarta Post, 8 December 2012

Blair pointed out that mobile phones had “increasingly become an absolute essential in everyday life here in Indonesia”.

Mobile operator PT Indosat (ISAT), Nokia Indonesia and a foundation headed by Cherie Blair, the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, have collaborated to run a project aiming to empower the country’s women entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) via digital content.

Blair is the founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a foundation that provides support for entrepreneurial efforts by women in developing countries through capacity- and capital-building projects.

The foundation runs a mobile technology program, which aims to create economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs through the use of mobile phones and services.

With the collaboration between the foundation, Indosat and Nokia Indonesia, owners of Nokia Series and Nokia Asha mobile phones with Indosat as the operator will gain access to a special segment in Nokia Life Tools that will feed information on entrepreneurship and business management that is specially tailored for women.

Nokia Life Tools is an SMS-based service that provides subscribers with information mainly on agriculture and education. The service is available in developing countries, including India and Indonesia, where approximately 8 million people subscribe to the service.

Blair pointed out that mobile phones had “increasingly become an absolute essential in everyday life here in Indonesia”.

A study by MobileMonday shows that mobile phone penetration has reached 92 percent in Indonesia, a country of 250 million people. Yet, only 20 percent of all mobile phones are smartphones, which provide users with Internet content.

A report by Blair’s foundation has also found that “300 million women in developing countries are missing out on the mobile technology” on offer, and 37 percent of women in Southeast Asia were less likely to own a mobile phone than men.

Blair added that women, although possessing the capacity and drive to succeed in running small businesses, “found it difficult to reach the extra mile”, as they lacked access to business information, such as how to find suppliers and manage employees.

And this was the information digital media could channel to these women.

“Digital media is key in helping small businesses expand. People are already using Facebook to display their wares to a wider audience,” she said.

Martin Chirotarrab, country manager of Nokia Indonesia, said that they expected a high uptake rate of the service aimed for women entrepreneurs.

“We expect the number of users to be at the six figure mark very soon,” he said.

Meliadi Sembiring, a deputy at the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry, pointed out that women entrepreneurs comprised only 1 percent of Indonesia’s population.

Article originally posted on The Jakarta Post