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.

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