#ItsHerEconomyToo Interview Series: Advancing Women’s Digital Equity in Indonesia

February 3, 2023

In this series we dive into the work happening around the world with Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion Advocacy Hub partners, and explore how they are driving women’s digital financial inclusion.

As evidenced by last year’s Global Findex Report, digital financial inclusion isn’t just an urgent moral imperative, but an economic one as well. While around 250 million more women in developing countries finally have some form of financial access, three times that many – roughly three quarters of a billion women – are still excluded from the mainstream economy.

To address this gap, Women’s World Banking and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) recently launched the Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion Advocacy Hub, a catalyst for collective action to increase digital financial inclusion for women.

The Hub convenes diverse stakeholders, including financial service providers, fintech’s, civil society, and bi- and multi-lateral organizations, with established coalitions on the ground in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Here’s how Advocacy Hub member DANA is working to advance women’s digital equity in Indonesia.

Tell us about your business.

DANA is an Indonesian technology financial company that provides inclusive financial services to empower people to live better. The company aims to be one of the pillars of the digital economy in Indonesia by enabling seamless transactions through our digital wallet. As a highly secured and scalable payment service platform that connects everyone through world-class technology, DANA’s goal is to provide Indonesia with a trustworthy and convenient mobile payment system, while creating a sustainable, profitable business that delivers for its stakeholders.

What makes your work so critical? What unique challenges do you help your customers overcome?

Access to finance is crucial for national and local economic development, particularly as almost half of the Indonesian population remains unbanked. Our wallet is now trusted by more than 120 million users and more than 500,000 MSMEs have joined our digital ecosystem. Interestingly, our internal study indicates that more than 36% of our users were previously unbanked.

Our work increases financial literacy and access to finance by seamlessly fulfilling people’s daily financial needs, helping them avoid being trapped in a state of being underbanked. Now our users have easy access to invest in various financial services products, from digital gold (DANA eMAS) to insurance. We are a trusted channel for disbursement of the government social security program Kartu Prakerja. Aside from this Government-to-Person (G2O) program, we also offer Person-to-Government (P2P) capabilities, through which our users have easy access to pay their government bills and taxes, both on the national and local levels.

DANA’s clients include some of the biggest companies in Indonesia. How do you create a product that successfully serves these clients while also advancing the goals of entrepreneurs?

We are aware that the responsibility of serving as a bridge for financial inclusion cannot be borne alone by us. That is why we remain an open platform ecosystem, allowing us to adopt a holistic approach and integrate with various stakeholders, including the government, financial institutions and partners, as well as the users. An example from one of our products that serves the goals of entrepreneurs is DANA Bisnis. Through this feature, entrepreneurs have easy access to help with transactions,  supported by QR Indonesian Standard (QRIS), making it suitable for most Indonesian entrepreneurs, the majority of which are MSMEs. Add-ons to DANA Bisnis include several education and socialization programmes, as well as access to the national registration to obtain business identification numbers through Online Single Submission (OSS).

What actions or initiatives are you implementing to help women-owned MSMEs and drive digital financial inclusion?

In Indonesia, women have a lower level of digital-financial literacy than men (25% compared to 33%), a trend also reflected in the rate of digital-financial inclusion (60% compared to 69%). Many studies have linked those numbers to a lack of digital-financial education. As a long-term result, this gap can limit women’s opportunities to participate both in the MSMEs sector and digital space. To address this challenge, we ensure that our business not only results in economic growth, but also contributes to gender inclusivity. Therefore, DANA has several initiatives that focus on narrowing the gender gap in terms of digital-financial literacy.

Our Bunda Berdigital program aims to achieve fair and equal gender representation in the digital space. Using the DANA app, we implement a mentoring model and an interactive module to build awareness and understanding of the space in women’s communities, facilitating exposure through day-long programs and community engagement, and creating a safe space for women to network and problem-solve. The first iteration of Bunda Berdigital started in September 2022, when we worked with a community of female tailors in Perca Village, Bogor – and we’re working to take the program to additional communities of women all over Indonesia.

Launching at the end of 2022, our SisBerdaya program will expand access to capital and entrepreneurial skills for women-owned MSMEs in Indonesia. Using the DANA Bisnis feature in the DANA app, we will offer workshops and seminars on technology and entrepreneurial skills for the digital era. Participating MSMEs who complete the training, which also includes mentorship, community engagement, and networking events, will receive IDR 5-10 million in funding, with the top five participants invited to Jakarta for a pitch competition judged by business leaders and DANA leadership.

In addition to these programs, we also partner with organizations like Mercy Corps Indonesia, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, and of course Women’s World Banking with a goal of improving women’s digital-financial literacy. These “Partnership for Equality” initiatives are open to all relevant stakeholders – such as government institutions, NGOs, and private companies – aligned with our mission of women’s empowerment.

Can you share any specific outcomes for women MSMEs that you’ve achieved so far? How can app-based technology help achieve these outcomes?

DANA Bisnis, our business development service specially developed for MSMEs, is an in-app feature designed to help MSMEs manage their business on a practical and secure payment platform. Through this service, entrepreneurs are also able to receive digital financial transactions safely and comfortably, since their customers only need to scan QRIS (Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard) to pay for goods. In 2022, 500,000 MSMEs – 20% of which were women-owned – took advantage of this service. The total payment value of women’s MSMEs increases every year. More details about the DANA Bisnis feature can be read here.

We also support women-owned MSMEs through empowerment programs to help them transform into digital ecosystems, an area that is still unfamiliar for some of them. Between 2021 and 2022, we conducted four of these programs, benefitting over 300 women.

Why did you decide to join the Advocacy Hub?

In the context of the digital economy, increasing women’s empowerment is a major challenge rooted in inequitable systems established more than a hundred years ago . It is therefore a movement that needs revolutionary patience, strong alliances, and a high level of consistency. We see the empowerment of women-led MSMEs as a major part of this movement, and this work can only be done if we are holding hands and working towards it together. Without any coordinated actions to advocate this cause, it would be very hard to work efficiently and effectively.

From your perspective, what do you hope to see the Hub collectively achieve for women MSMEs and digital financial inclusion?

We hope that The Advocacy Hub can substantially help to close the gap between women-owned MSMEs and men-owned MSMEs through the improvement of digital financial inclusion. Hopefully, The Advocacy Hub could be a place for its members to learn and share information about digital financial inclusion and the empowerment of women-led MSMEs, so we can reach a fairer society in the future.

Learn more and join the WDFI Advocacy Hub.