Entrepreneurial Women: “We are and want to be role models for all women in Sabah!”

8th March 2018

Globally, women are unequally paid and underrepresented in business. In Sabah, the increase in living costs over recent years has meant women in communities are more likely to be required to earn an income to support their family. Raleigh Borneo has been running its sustainable alternative livelihood project since June 2017. The programme aims to equip people within communities with the knowledge and skills they need to start and maintain green businesses.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we spoke with some of our female participants to find out about the effect they hope the programme will have on their lives.

Traditionally, women in Sabah take on unpaid but vital domestic roles, such as childcare, while men seek formal employment opportunities to generate income for their family. However, women from across Sabah are increasingly taking the opportunity to learn about business and how to generate their own income alongside their informal roles in the home.

Our sustainable enterprise programme invites participants from communities in the Heart of Sabah. In the latest round of training, the number of women who have taken part has increased. Rostitiyani Paul, 24, “We are and want to be role models for all women in Sabah!” Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin, 20, tells us, “Last year in June, the programme was conducted here in Rumantai. I spoke to some of the women who previously participated and listened to their stories. I am so pleased to be able to take part in the process!”

The nine-week programme aims to equip the participants with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful entrepreneurs. The participants are supported from idea to pitch and are encouraged to develop sustainable green businesses that will help conserve forest biodiversity.

Participant Rostitiyani Paul
Participant Rostitiyani Paul

Rostitiyani Paul is a house wife in Kampung Rumantai. She has two children, a girl and a boy. Rostitiyani has envisaged having her own business to provide extra income for her family. “The Raleigh Borneo programme is a good start for us as women to explore something different and to learn the importance of green businesses in helping the environment.” Rostitiyani continues by saying, “I hope and dream that one day every woman can have their own income…and not have to depend solely on their husbands’ income.”

Participant Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin
Participant Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin

Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin is living in Kampung Tembidong-Bidong. She began her studies in high school however did not manage to finish. Since this she has been without a job however and has been trying to run small businesses for income such as selling burgers. Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin tells us the programme is providing possibility and hope for women across Sabah. “Back in my Kampung everyone hopes the programme will provide more opportunity to work. As women we hope to be equal to men. We hope to raise awareness that women can achieve this and have a side income for themselves.”

The women have especially noted the support they are receiving from back home. Siti Nur Syahidah Binti Jinin expands, “I am supported 100% with what I’m doing. They are all hoping that there will be more opportunity for work in our village. They hope from completing the programme everyone will be more aware about how important it is to generate their own income nowadays.”

The second cycle of our sustainable enterprise programme is nearly reaching completion. This week participants have completed internships within businesses in Sabah. In the coming week participants will be pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges with the aim of securing seed funding for their business. Check back in a few days to find out more!


Words by Communications Officer Rebecca Raab.

Photography by Programmes Officer Adam J. Young.

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