16 Days of Activism

Young female entrepreneur strives to transform her life for a better future

Leaving her unfortunate experience behind, Ana Paula de Jesus da Silva, who took part in ILO’s Gender and Entrepreneurship Together (GET Ahead) training programme, is determined to continue expanding her business for a better future.

Feature | Dili, Timor-Leste | 28 November 2023
Ana Paula de Jesus da Silva (far right) together with the participating entrepreneurs after being awarded by the ILO with a certificate. © ILO
Owning a business and becoming an entrepreneur have always been a dream of Ana Paula de Jesus da Silva. A-23-year-old Ana had been helping and assisting her mother’s local, homemade wine business since she was a teenager at Ermera Municipality, located in the west-central part of Timor-Leste.

I felt traumatized from the incident. I am grateful that I receive emotional supports from Fokupers. They have helped me to stay strong and move forward with my education."

Ana Paula de Jesus da Silva
The country is known for its local, homemade wine. The local wine is made from a variety of fruits such as oranges, strawberries, grapes and so forth. Sold in recycled plastic bottles, the wine lasts for 2-3 years.

“I used to help my mother’s business until I was at my senior year of high school. My mother has taught me how to select fruits and how to make a good, homemade wine,” she shared.

She really enjoyed her study and her involvement in her family business. However, one night while studying for her senior high school final exam, a close family member attempted to harass her.

She was shaken and terrified, but with courage she could escape and immediately went to her parents. Despite some suggestions to solve this issue amicably within the family, Ana refused and insisted to resolve it through a legal process by reporting it to the police.

“I did not want the case to stop within the family. I am thinking of my other family members who can be fallen victims,” she said.

I learn that as a woman, I need to be strong and brave. I also need to be courageous and to be more decisive. I am ready for my new future."

The same night, the police came and attended the case. The police also contacted the Forum for Communication for Women of Timor-Leste (Fokupers), a non-governmental organization focusing on women's right, whose representatives took Ana to its women’s shelter. After two weeks staying in the shelter, the Fokupers accompanied Ana to come home to finish her high school exam.

“I felt traumatized from the incident. I am grateful that I receive emotional supports from Fokupers. They have helped me to stay strong and move forward with my education,” she told.

After graduation, she moved to Dili to live with her aunt and to continue her study at Universidade da Paz with support from her parents and the scholarship she gained from the European Union. While completing her study, she learnt about the ILO’s Gender and Entrepreneurship Together (GET Ahead) training programme in 2021.

Ana Paula de Jesus da Silva, a 23-year-old entrepreneur during the fair exhibition. © ILO/Gita Lingga
Without hesitant, she joined the training organized by the ILO’s implementing partner: the Institute for Entrepreneurship Support and Development (IADE). During the training, she learnt about business plan, financial management, business management and business competition.

Through the ILO’s entrepreneurship training programmes, we hope that women in the country, including girls, will be more skilled, knowledgeable and economically independent. We also hope that they can also provide a better care to their children and families. In addition, the programmes also align with Timor-Leste’s National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence."

Margaret Araujo, the ILO’s Programme Coordinator for the Spotlight Initiative
She started her business after the training by reselling her mother’s wine products. After a while, she has begun to make her own wine and sold them online using a social media promotion. When she was invited to be part of the ILO’s three-day fair trade exhibition last October, she sold out her 5-litre homemade wine during the exhibition.

Just recently graduated from the university with public health major, Ana is now pursuing her dream to be a successful entrepreneur. She is planning to officially register her business and to build a business network with other local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Although she is not fully forgotten about her case since the perpetrator was only given house arrest by the court, she is determined to move forward with her life. In addition to her homemade wine business, she has made a plan with her aunt to open a canteen on nearby campus.

“I learn that as a woman, I need to be strong and brave. I also need to be courageous and to be more decisive. I am ready for my new future.”

Applauding Ana’s determination, Margaret Araujo, the ILO’s Programme Coordinator for the Spotlight Initiative, said that the inspiring journey of Ana is in line with the overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative Project, funded by the European Union, to ensure that women and girls enjoy their right to a life free of violence, within an inclusive and gender equitable Timor-Leste.

“Through the ILO’s entrepreneurship training programmes, we hope that women in the country, including girls, will be more skilled, knowledgeable and economically independent. We also hope that they can also provide a better care to their children and families. In addition, the programmes also align with Timor-Leste’s National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence” she added.