Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Moment of Change as Social Entrepreneur


by Niken Lestari

It was started as a surviving mechanism. As many activists aware, the annual working contract in local NGO is insufficient to provide long-term income. I was living in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia which renown with its very expensive living cost. A few months before, I am married to a man who was also working in an NGO and we rented a humble one bedroom house. I was careful not to get pregnant before I know what lay ahead. Then the time came when our contracts expired.

Here it is, we said to ourselves. What are we going to do? What do I want to do?

We could look for jobs in Jakarta but was it wise enough? I am a married, 34 year-old woman. Anyone interested? Why about creating my own business? How difficult is it? Questions and more questions. I questioned myself; my ability, my knowledge, my experience, my money. It was now or never situation. I decided to go ahead with my passion and what I do best, transcription and translation.

I've been into some business startup seminars few years back. It's time to walk the talk. So I took my book and started list my tangible and intangible asset. It was then I learned a lot on the importance of knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. It's the thing, the most crucial one. Afterward I will look into what property I had to support my vision. I have small saving so I can't rent an office. Sure, everyone can do transcription and translation from home. Perfect!

I have a laptop, a smartphone, a GSM modem, a SIM card, a printer, a DVD player. Sounds great! I also can make website and a blog. I used to preoccupied with business plan that I never did. This time, the plan will come along with the business. My first client was my husband working partner, then my friends from my almamater. Steadily, it grew.

After more than 3 years in the business, I become comfortable to make my house as an office. I learned that many people also have no choice but to work from home. Therefore TranscriptDOC, my business, work together with housewives, students, blind people, NGO staff, and teachers; most of them are women. On one side, they are well-educated women with bachelor degree from renown universities and have work experiences. On the other side, they are responsible for child-care and parents-care. Some of them having difficulty to find a job because of their different ability as blind people. All of them faced the same challenge to balance professional need, domestic responsibility, and the stigma of being unfit to work professionally.

As my business grows, it provided me with different point of view of working. The online business tools have changed some types of work and the way people communicate to each other. I am growing into it, explore it and exploit it. What I mean by “it”, of course the change itself.

Slowly I realized that I can grow this business into an entrepreneurship, which mean I can organize, manage, and assume the risks of a business or enterprise. I can combine my business passion and community organizing practices. It was at this moment that I learn that entrepreneurship is the process of discovering new ways of combining resources.

Internet has provide me with affordable space, tools, and opportunity to explore more ways to reach out and organize young people, professional women, and different-abled youth. It was a powerful thing as now I see myself as an agent of change.


This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »



Mauwa Brigitte's picture


You are great with this beautiful initiative of the creation of the company and I encourage you to go forward to perfection. God bless you!


Mary S's picture

Hi Niken It must have taken a

Hi Niken

It must have taken a lot of determination to set up such a successful business! I am happy to see that you work with people from all backgrounds, focusing on their abilities, not their disabilities or other circumstances that may make it more difficult for them to find employment. How many employees do you have?


famm.indonesia's picture


Hi Mary,
My employees are freelancers so they come and go as they please. If they found other projects that are more stable and interesting, they will go there and I will look for other resources. Right now I have 3 freelancers working with me.


Mary S's picture

Sounds good! Mary

Sounds good!


Julia O'Byrne's picture

Such a cool post!

Hi Niken!
I really enjoyed your post and feel very inspired by the work you do and the work you did to get to where you are now. I have a few comments: first, it's really too bad that working for an NGO in Jakarta barely provides a person with a living wage. That's not good. Second, I loved your thought process when deciding whether you could start your own enterprise. And third, I love how you work from home (I don't work from home now but a few years ago I was able to and I loved being home in the middle of the day, setting my own schedule, etc.) and work with a diverse group of people. That's really awesome! I totally see you as an agent of change too :)
Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Best wishes,

Dani26's picture

Thanks for sharing your story

Hi Niken

Wow, what an inspiring story! You are very courageous to make the leap to being a small business owner and entrepreneur, but it sounds like it is going really well! I think a lot of women struggle with feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence, but sometimes you just need to make the leap and this is what you've done and what a success it's been. I love that you've been able to employ other women as well - as you say it's not always easy for women to juggle work and childcare responsibilities so I think it's great that you've been able to offer this opportunity to other women. And fantastic as well that you've been able to use your community organising skills - just goes to show the potential of the internet to connect and empower women.

Best wishes for you, your family and your growing business!


gracest's picture

Dani, I think the aspect of


I think the aspect of your story that affected me the most was your easygoing narration about the creation of your business. Although I am sure it was difficult at the time, you remained open, patient and positive. I think this is so important! There is a quote that goes something like "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."
This is so true about the formation of your business- you let it form organically, learning, establishing and making changes as it went. You deserve all of your successes and I am glad that the Internet enabled you to do that.
How can other women in Jakarta follow in your footsteps?

your sister,


famm.indonesia's picture

we learn from others

Hi Grace,

We're also learn from other, especially the previous generation. We are never be alone in building and maintain women's movement as many people have interest and become part of it. There are many challenges we faced and we are proud to embrace them as part of our journey.


Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

Myra Musico: My Disability Is Not an Obstacle

Myra Musico: My Disability Is Not an Obstacle

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative