Define your own success
Diah Yusuf is an entrepreneur, a business consultant, the secretary general of the International Council for Small Business (Indonesia), and former vice president of the ICSB Global and more. She entered the world of entrepreneurship in 2002 and soon grew her empire to encompass numerous businesses, while at the same devoting herself to bettering the conditions for small business owners across Indonesia.
Diah’s first business focused on bettering the status of working women and saw her plunge her creativity, energy and time into creating hijab business attire.
“Before my business we didn’t have anything of that sort. So that was my first business in 2002,” Diah recalls.
Her motivation behind the business was her passion for people and challenging the stereotype of women in a male-dominated world.
The perks of being her own boss included the freedom to raise her young family while following her dreams.
“As a mother I had other responsibilities, so the motive behind my business was not growth at the time.”
Soon after founding her own business, Diah began to form links with the wider business community with the goal to better the position of SMEs in her home country.
She soon developed a relationship with the ministry of small business in Indonesia and was asked to work with the government on an upcoming exhibition.
“They asked for my help in listing businesses for the exhibition. Looking for the best businesses to showcase their work.
“This got me thinking about forming a second business,” Diah explains.
This is where her coaching career began, as Diah developed an interest in empowering her fellow entrepreneurs towards success.
“I started learning about coaching, about empowering, about how we can help other businesses to be better,” Diah recalls.
At the time, Diah was also developing several programs for small business owners, one in partnership with a local company that had reached out for help and the other with the tourism ministry.
“From then on, apart from running my business, I set aside time to help others.”
Speaking about the business climate in Indonesia, Diah explains that while founding a business is a pretty straightforward process, one of equal strain for both men and women, running a business and steering it towards growth can be an insurmountable task.
“Surprisingly women and men start an equal number of businesses in Indonesia. But while it’s easy for a woman to enter business, how to manage the business becomes a challenge,” Diah says.
In 2017, Diah formally founded Indonesia Prima, an SME accelerator to help and assist SMEs grow their businesses and to prepare them to seek out Angel Investors.
While it has a wide-reaching role to better the conditions for business owners throughout Indonesia, Diah has also teamed up with UN Women to offer women free advisory services.
“They’re alone, so we teach them not to compare themselves with the big business and to reach success by step by step,” Diah explains.
As an entrepreneur, she runs several businesses in the health and beauty retail area, in the property industry, the IT sector and sustainable aquaculture farming. She is also the founder and chairman of the Festival Entrepreneur Indonesia (FEI).
“I’m always looking for opportunities.
“My daughter is 16 and she is becoming involved in my businesses,” Diah says proudly.
But Diah also has links to the global community, including Australia.
“One of Indonesia Prima’s goals is to help businesses in Indonesia export their products to other countries. Of course, when I go abroad, I visit the Indonesian representative office there because I want to know how I can support local businesses to go abroad.
“I now actively participate in webinars to educate SMEs to enter the global market, not just in terms of exports but also in terms of learning from each other to open the global mindset,” Diah explains.
Indonesia and Australia have in place a free trade agreement as of July 2020, meaning that Diah is now in almost constant communication with Austrade to explore further opportunities to expand this co-operation.
“I know what Australian businesses are looking for from Indonesia and what Indonesian businesses can do to trade with Australia. So I invite any Australian SME to explore and discuss more about these opportunities.
“I believe that we should share knowledge with each other. It would be wonderful if we could further strengthen our relationship. We are now the residents of the world with globalisation,” Diah says.
Her contribution and strategic thinking on empowering SMEs also drew the attention of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB). Currently, Diah is the secretary general at the ICSB’s Indonesian office.
“We define our own success,” Diah believes.
In concluding our chat, Diah reiterates the importance of defining one’s purpose and following the road to its fruition.
“Sometimes as women we think we’re weaker than men, but we’re not weak. We should have the confidence, we should know our purpose, which could be to be a really successful business woman or to be a mum. When we have a purpose, it becomes easy to step-by-step arrive at our goal.”