During Jolkona’s Project Catalyst Showcase on Thursday, June 19, our five Indonesian social entrepreneurs gave their five-minute business pitches to a public audience of supporters and investors. Funded by the U.S. State Department, Project Catalyst had selected them out of 200 applicants. And after two weeks of intense training in Seattle–which included workshops, field trips, mentoring, coaching, and coffee chats–the participants presented their social enterprise projects to sixty people at the University of Washington.

“I was so excited to do the pitch, especially doing it in a foreign language with an international sphere,” Mirah Mahaswari, one of the participants who was giving her pitch for the first time, said.

While Nadya Saib has pitched before, she said this time was different: “This past Thursday is slightly different though, because I didn’t know anyone from the audience in person. The last time I pitched, I was accompanied with my team.”

The social entrepreneurs spent much of the week leading up to the presentation preparing it. They received feedback from mentors and coaches, and they practiced on each other for hours. Nadine Zamira said, “I was most excited to see the other’s pitch decks. We have been practicing with each other and was really looking forward to seeing the final product. I think everyone did amazing! So proud!”

Nadya added, “I was nervous about being the first in giving the presentation. But that actually excites me too. And I was also excited to talk in front of some coaches whom had given me loads of insights. I wanted them to know that their feedback had been useful for me.”

Nadine also said of the audience, “I loved seeing all the wonderful people who have been generous with us through out the program in one room.”

At the end of the presentations, the members of the audience voted for the recipient of a $500 grant. As the audience could buy more votes–at $5 per vote–the pool was increased to $700 by the end of the night. Mirah, whose Pack Your Spirit program promotes literacy and instills passion for reading in Indonesia, won the grant.

She said, “I am soooooo glad that my project got the grant! I can’t believe it, since the others were amazing during their pitch!”

The award was presented to her during a catered Indonesian dinner.

The audience was also asked to write notes on the back of their votes, and for many of the participants, that was valuable. Nadine said, “I really liked hearing the audience’s feedback – praise, encouragement, constructive input and new networking opportunities. The input box was a really nice touch. It’s always great to know when people understand or can relate to your message.” 

While the first program of Project Catalyst came to a close and the participants have all gone home to Indonesia, it is only the beginning for their projects. Nadya said her biggest take away was, “What Adnan told us–that it’s actually just the beginning that may spark more connections with the audience. Our next job is to follow up.”

Project Catalyst is an accelerator for international social ventures. This 2-week intensive workshop brings social entrepreneurs from developing countries to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors and funders.

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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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