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  • Writer's pictureNurmasita Anawula

Cacam Samsiah: Overcoming Bias in Male-Dominated Business World


Cassaplast Bioplastic provides range of plastic products made from cassava starch. Established in 2021, Cassaplast Bioplastic has been commited to develop plastic alternatives for a greener future. 

What are the challenges you faced while being a female entrepreneur?

In fact, as entrepreneurs we face a lot of challenges. Especially for female entrepreneurs, sometimes the biggest challenge comes from oneself. Sometimes self-doubt often appears like am I able to compete? Can it go forward? Can I turn this brand from local to global?

There are moments when our thoughts limit us to just be the second layer, working behind the curtain.

Eventhough nowadays challenges for female entrepreneurs are starting to fade out. We have seen many great MSMEs led by female entrepreneurs. The opportunities are becoming more open for female entrepreneurs. So the only question is do we want to upgrade ourselves and take the risk and opportunity? 

What is the impact of self-doubt on business continuity?

The thoughts surely brought me spiraling to nowhere. One of the things that motivates me to run the business, presenting and take part in business event, even though it feels hard, is because I have a team that is becoming my responsibility and the company that has been built for 6 years. 

What are the perceptions of people around you towards female entrepreneurs? 

There shouldn't be any significant problems. But the reality is that there is still a bias people have about female leaders because female have an emotional period in their PMS and if you couldn’t achieve the target then you would be ‘done’. Not to mention the perception that female leaders are fussy, rigid, details-oriented, and don't take it all easy. In fact, the way women lead by keeping in details and being fussy are producing different results which sometimes better than male leaders.

So that kind of biases are still there. From friends, sometimes there is an assumption “Come on, what are you looking for in this business? Your husband is already working and doing this business alone” even when I feel like I have the energy and abilities that is too bad if we don't use them. From the family also sometimes like that. When we are busy they think "You don’t have to be that ambitious" even when we never forget our responsibility in our family, taking care of them, and having a seamless support system. But statements like that keep coming for us. This kind of bias is what I want to turn down. I want to prove that they are wrong, why can’t females be entrepreneurs as long as there is opportunity and capability? 

How do you respond to these doubtful assumptions?

To debate their thoughts is hard because they also have their own paradigm. That's why I am placing those statements as motivation for me to prove to myself and them that female can do business as long as there is a will and opportunity. When females are able to prove their success, this assumption will recede itself. This case won’t happen to a man, people would already believe in man's capability in doing business even when he barely talks about the planning. Women often don’t get heard if they haven’t show their results. For me this is a very real experience so it’s becoming a challenge for myself to prove with success. 

What have you done to overcome this challenge of self-doubt?

So now I take a lot of classes such as communication skills, digital business, any kind of class I will participate. So I am trying to upgrade myself while joining the community. The more you associate with people who have the same business and challenges, it can increase your confidence and courage to move forward. The second is learning a lot, buying books and taking online and offline classes. And more often networking, I push myself to be brave. I used to like to refuse meeting someone new, but now I meet people more and try to find out their interest and background so we can build meaningful connections. And take more opportunities to be invited to be speakers or invited to TV.

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