Recently, two weeks into an Indonesian adventure I set out on early last month, I encountered a rarity on the small island of Bali: a female driver. Though it’s not uncommon for women to work here — as maids, cooks, servers, shop keepers and more — she was the only woman I’d seen working as a professional driver to that point and remains the only one I’ve seen since. Her english was also impeccable — something all but one of the male Balinese drivers I’ve ridden with have struggled with — so as we snaked our way up a nearby mountainside on her motorbike we were able to connect over work-life balance, the beauty of the countryside, and the superiority of the small bananas you can get at most roadside stands and Balinese markets. (They really are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts.)
What I’ve learned both before and since on this trip is that, aside from the occasional driving gig, entrepreneurship is widespread among women in Bali. In fact, some reports estimate that Balinese women operate up to ninety percent of the small food stands and restaurants, called warungs, that line the streets from Denpasar to Ubud to Lovina, Amed and Padangbai. In fact, the tourist industry on Bali is — with the exception of drivers and tour guides — dominated by women. And their entrepreneurial drive is palpable.
Around the world, like around the island of Bali, we know economic empowerment is key in granting women freedom and equality. Which is why we’re excited to dedicate the month of March to the entrepreneurial spirit of women world wide as we celebrate both Women’s History Month here in the U.S. and International Women’s Day around the globe on March 8. Because as we at March 4th, Inc. have long preached: entrepreneurship isn’t just business. Being an entrepreneur means drawing on courage, resilience and determination to solve problems at home, work and everywhere in between.
If you’d like to help foster entrepreneurship in girls in your community this month, check out Rana DiOrio and Emma D. Dryden’s What Does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur? For teachers, we also have free activities and curriculum for use in the classroom.