To commemorate Women’s History Month this March, we would like to highlight some of the roles that women carry in the professional world, especially in social enterprises. In this interview, we spoke with the co-founders of Hear Me: Athalia Mutiara Laksmi (CEO), Safirah Nur Shabrina (CMO), Octafiani Isna Ariani (COO), Nadya Sahara Putri (Human Resources) and Ivan Octa (Head of Branding). Hear Me is a social company that provides an Indonesian Sign Language translator (BISINDO) platform with 3D animation views.
Instellar: What prompted Ms. Athalia and friends to develop the BISINDO translator application?
Hear Me: Our background in establishing Hear Me, which focuses on accessibility, started unexpectedly. At that time, it happened that the Hear Me co-founders (Athalia, Fira, Fani, Nadya) were studying at the same department and university, SBM ITB, and were assigned to create a business in the technology sector.
At one point we met a Deaf online taxi driver. At that moment, we saw and heard stories that there were communication difficulties between the driver and the passengers, which caused the driver to receive an unfavorable review.
This incident became the inspiration and basis for our idea to create Hear Me, which aims to make people more aware of sign language and the problem of limitations in communicating with the Deaf community.
Instellar: As a social enterprise that strives to improve accessibility, what are the values used as the principal in Hear Me’s day-to-day operation?
Octafiani Isna Ariani: Our main value is to create equal rights between Deaf community and the rest of the society, and create inclusivity in the professional field. For example, Hear Me employs Deaf people who participate in all operational activities, especially adding a sign language database to suit the needs of Deaf community. With Hear Me’s 1000+ sign language database, we are hopeful to increase the accessibility needed by our Deaf friends.
In addition, every employee who joins our company will be taught the basic Indonesian Sign Language. Our goal is to increase awareness and get used to communicating with the Deaf employees.
Instellar: What are Hear Me’s long term and short term plans?
Safirah Nur Shabrina: In the long term, Hear Me has a vision to build an inclusive environment by providing access to sign language on various platforms, both online and offline. Meanwhile, for the short term, our goal is to build awareness about the importance of providing signal access from non-Deaf people, one of which is through sign language learning features and games in the Hear Me application.
We also have #InklusivitasMulaiDariKita (Inclusivity Starts From Us) campaign where we offer a free trial of the Hear Me service specifically for corporations, public facilities, and content creators/agencies in the form of sign language video content, website translators, voice to motion screens, and sign language information screens. Hopefully, this innovation can help us achieve one of our goals, which is to invite more people to provide sign language access on their platform.
Instellar: With four women co-founders in the leadership level, how does Hear Me amplify the roles of women, and women with disabilities in the work environment?
Nadya Sahara Putri: Hear Me has more women employees than the men, with a ratio of 60:40. BoD and division heads are also filled by the majority of women. We provide women employees with menstruation leave, and we prioritize Deaf women to join Hear Me. We also regularly participate in events held for women leaders so that we can become better leaders.
Instellar: Athalia leads the Hear Me team to win the 2023 Hyundai Startup Challenge, what lessons did you learn about leadership during your participation in the program?
Athalia Mutiara Laksmi: There are five things that we learned from the program. The first is purpose-driven leadership, collaboration and partnership, innovation and adaptability, empathy and social responsibility and the last is continuous learning and improvement.
Instellar: As a young women leader / entrepreneur, what message do you have for womenpreneurs who want or are starting their own startup?
Women leaders or womanpreneurs used to not get too much attention from the society. We even tend to get negative stigma in the past. But time has changed. Studies have shown that companies with more women in leadership positions tend to have better financial performance and are more innovative. Apart from that, women also bring new perspectives and new ideas to the business world. Therefore it is important to continue to support and encourage the growth of womenpreneurs and women leaders.
With Hear Me being led by a majority of women, we want to inspire future generations of womenpreneurs and women leaders, while creating a more inclusive and diverse business world.
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