This action research aims to explore the issues of microfinance and women’s empowerment in urban Indonesia, and the role of accounting on the issues. Drawing on critical accounting theory, this study employs feminism and empowerment theory based on Foucault’s work to investigate the activities of female micro-entrepreneurs who are members of a Sharia cooperative. The study was conducted using an action research method for eight months with observation and interviews with 40 female micro-entrepreneurs. It is found that the lending scheme applied in the cooperative follows the principle of family resilience. In this context, the empowerment is not aimed at women only, but also at the family as the subject. The female entrepreneurs gain benefits from the microfinance initiatives and hence perceive themselves as being empowered. The cooperative loans transform them into neoliberal agents and the family resilience programs act as a shield to avoid the negative impact of their success on the gender relations in the family and as a reminder that their success also comes from the family’s support. This study also found that the simple accounting system introduced to the women is perceived to be useful in enhancing their financial skills to support small businesses. How microfinance initiatives empower women has been studied extensively in previous research; however, how accounting can play a significant role in the process has rarely been investigated in the extant literature.


microfinance, women’s empowerment, accounting, action research, cooperative, family-resilience

Author Bio(s)

Desi Adhariani, Ph.D., is a lecturer and researcher of the Department of Accounting, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Indonesia. She holds a Ph.D. from Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, which was funded by an Australia Awards Scholarship. She has been actively involved in several research projects on sustainability, accounting, ethics, and gender (most of them take multidisciplinary perspectives) and has attracted several research grants namely from the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Higher Education, CIMA (the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and Universitas Indonesia. To enhance her research capabilities, Desi has also been actively involved in several research collaborations with leading international researchers. In 2021, Desi was selected as one the winner of Emerald Young Researcher Award from Emerald Publishing for her outstanding contribution in research and/or in practice and the impact she brings on the society or the community concerned. The complete list of her work and publications can be found in her Scopus profile, Research Gate and LinkedIn account: Desi Adhariani. Please direct correspondence to desi.adhariani@ui.ac.id or desiadharis@gmail.com.


This research is funded by the 2021 Basic Research Grant, the Indonesia Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology. The financial support is highly appreciated.

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