Zilingo launches “SheWorkz” program to empower underserved women

The program helps women micro-entrepreneurs earn sustainable incomes.

Singapore-headquartered e-commerce Zilingo launched the SheWorkz initiative in Jakarta today. The firm described the program as “the largest, decentralized manufacturing program empowering female micro-entrepreneurs”.

According to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index 2015 report quoted by Zilingo, 68% of workers in apparel manufacturing are women but they are the lowest-paid and least valued, earning on average 39% less than men.

SheWorkz aims to help women monetize their free time and home spaces by providing vocational training, financing and business development opportunities. This way, women micro-entrepreneurs under SheWorkz will have the opportunity to work from home and earn additional and sustainable incomes.

According to its official statement, SheWorkz offers a four-step program. First, Zilingo approaches and identifies women entrepreneurs-to-be who will take part in a 20-day vocational training course funded 100% by Zilingo. This is to help them build crucial skills such as batik making, pattern design, sewing, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.

Afterwards, they will be grouped by skill-level and geography into ‘micro-factories’, to be connected to the global market through Zilingo’s network, where they have the opportunity to receive apparel orders from brands. Finally, Zilingo will provide access to microfinance through verified lines of credit from partners.

As a woman-led business, Zilingo, that was founded in 2015, prioritizes women empowerment. The company said that women make up more than half of the company’s employees; with close to 50% of the C-level executives being female.

“Women are the most underutilized and latent potential Asian economies. They contribute only 24% of GDP in South and Southeast Asia,” said co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose in a statement. “Airbnb taught us that every extra bedroom in your house could be a hotel with some investment and vision. Then why can’t that extra space be a workshop or small manufacturing unit utilising the time women have on their hands-on account of falling out of the workforce.”

Zilingo plans to expand SheWorkz’ reach and empower over 2,000 women in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia by 2022.