Project Catalyst Entrepreneur Profile #4 – Mirah Mahaswari

Our first five participants in Project Catalyst, Jolkona’s new accelerator for social entrepreneurs from developing countries, will come from Indonesia to Seattle in the next couple weeks. This 2-week intensive workshop will allow them to further hone their business plans, meet prospective investors and gain new insights. We can’t wait to welcome them to our offices on June 8!

Our fourth feature is Mirah Mahaswari, whose Pack Your Spirit program promotes literacy and instills passion for reading in Indonesia. Pack Your Spirit collects children’s used-books, hosts community events, and coordinates their transportation to remote schools in the villages of east Borneo.

Q: Outside of this project and work, what else do you do for fun in Indonesia? What other passions do you have?

I love traveling! I usually spend my leisure time traveling around Indonesia. Last time, my husband and I stayed for almost three days in a beautiful island called Derawan in East Kalimantan. We snorkeled and enjoyed the underwater view so much!

Q: So, what inspired you to start this venture?

Balikpapan Menyala was already established by the time I moved here. As volunteers, we try to create social activities to solve problems in our community. Here, we face an illiteracy issue and low passion in reading. Because of those, we inspired to organize an event to pack and share books in Balikpapan.

Q: What is one obstacle you have faced in running the program? How did you overcome it?

Asking the public for book donation was quite hard. It wasn’t to promote the cause by social media and posters. We overcame this by doing roadshow to schools and coordinated with the student council and headmasters. Then, we promoted a “one man, one book” donation program to every school. Within a month, around 4,000 books were collected from 11 primary schools, 7 junior high, and 5 senior high schools.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you come to the United States as a part of Project Catalyst?

It such a tremendous benefit for me to get connected to a global network in the U.S. I’m looking forward to learning about funding and program sustainability from the mentors and social enterprise practitioners in Seattle. I hope to take the project into a bigger scale and impact 🙂

We are very excited to have Mirah Mahaswari here in Seattle! If you are interested in helping these amazing entrepreneurs, Project Catalyst is recruiting for mentors, coaches and hosts! If you are available between June 8 and 22, please contact

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