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INTERVIEW WITH MS. RATIH RACHMAWATY CEO, BTPN Syariah WOMANi Ranking – 06

Q1. ALTHOUGH PROGRESS ON GENDER EQUALITY HAS
BEEN MADE IN SOME AREAS, THE POTENTIAL OF WOMEN
TO ENGAGE IN, CONTRIBUTE TO AND BENEFIT FROM
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AS LEADERS, PARTICIPANTS
AND AGENTS OF CHANGE HAS NOT BEEN FULLY REALIZED.
WHAT IS BTPN SYARIAH’S ROLE TOWARDS THIS END?

BTPN plays a very significant role in promoting gender
equality as capacity building is part of our priority, both
for our customers and for the employees. For productive
underprivileged women customers, our financing product
is designed to nurture four key behaviours: courage to do
business, discipline, hardwork, and solidarity. Possessing
these characteristics, our customers are empowered to
manage their household’s finances while creating a better
quality life for their families and the next generations.

Our financing product also has a membership system,
with shared responsibility for all members within each
community group. The group selects a community leader
for each instalment cycle and the leadership role is passed
on amongst members, thus allowing members to practice
their leadership skills. As for the employees, all of our
Community Officers are women – they are the front liners
in facilitating and assisting the productive underprivileged
customers in the field. Their task is not only to finance the
distribution, but also to encourage the customers to pursue
their hopes and dreams. The Community Officers are
trained to demonstrate honesty, politeness, and discipline.
By taking up these roles, we also encourage the Community
Officer to develop their own potential as well.

Q2. UNDOUBTEDLY, SUPPORTING WOMEN
ENTREPRENEURS IS VITAL FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH.
HOWEVER, IN INDONESIA, WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
STILL FACE SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES IN OBTAINING
ACCESS TO CREDIT. HOW IS BTPN SYARIAH
ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE?

We have a dedicated team working exclusively on
opening access to credit for women from productive
underprivileged background. Since the beginning of our
operation, we have been persistent in our efforts to
empower the unbanked communities across Indonesia.
Currently, BTPN Syariah is serving 3.5 million
customers, all of whom are women. We operate in 23
provinces, out of which 10 provinces, as recorded by the government, have the largest population of poor productive
communities in Indonesia.

Q3. YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEEN NAMED AS THE 6TH MOST
INFLUENTIAL WOMAN IN ISLAMIC BUSINESS AND FINANCE
GLOBALLY BY CAMBRIDGE IFA, UK. CONGRATULATIONS
ON THIS HUGE ACHIEVEMENT. WHAT ARE, FROM YOUR
PERSPECTIVE, THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN IN
LEADERSHIP ROLES?

Taking up a leadership role has its consequences. The
challenges will arise if women don’t anticipate them early
enough. These consequences or challenges may occur
in various forms – gender bias, family sensitivity, societal
perceptions of working women, and many more. Once
we have the willingness to accept these challenges and
embrace them instead of denying them, we have the
power to leverage on our personal qualities to tackle these
challenges.

Q4. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN AIMING FOR
LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?

Focus on your passion. God has given you talents, while
your passion drives you to use your talents repeatedly
and consistently, all the while strengthening them. Passion
creates a burning desire to serve wholeheartedly, thus, leading you with determination, persistence and endurance
during the hard times.

Choose your team wisely. Base your choice on EQ
(emotional quotient) instead of IQ (intelligence quotient),
and avoid the tendency to choose a team that is “similar to
us”. Instead engage professionals with different strengths,
and assure that your team carry a shared mission and hold
the same life values.
Always make time to learn and grow. There is no magic in
building a business; one has to go through the process of
ups and downs, the success as well as the failure. You can
only grow only if you learn from that process. It can be
better understood using the mountain climber’s principle:
be humble when you rise (because you are stronger when
you bend your body down as you walk up the mountain),
and confident when you are down (because it is easier to
walk down the hill with your body leaning back). Lastly,
disrupt yourselves otherwise someone else will.

Q5. WHAT DO WOMEN LEADERS BRING THAT IS UNIQUE?

Women tend to lead from the heart. It is natural for women
to show caring and empathy, thus human connections
comes quite naturally in an environment led by women.

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