Helianti Hilman
    Category: 10 Inspiring Women: Honor Roll By : Ulisari Eslita Read : 8078 Date : Monday, March 10, 2014 - 07:21:53

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Through her food products company Javara (“champion” in Sanskrit) Helianti Hilman wants to bring organic artisanal food products from Indonesia to the world. Her goal is not just to make a profit but to help many small farmers earn more money for their unique products and help preserve some traditional indigenous products, which are in danger of being replaced by mass-market agricultural items. Thus, five years ago, she was inspired to set up PT Kampung Kearifan Indonesia, which markets its products under the Javara brand.

    Before starting Javara, Helianti worked as a marketer of Indonesia’s agricultural products. Doing this, she noted that many local products had incredible taste and variety but were produced and marketed in an unsophisticated way. She decided there was a market for such products on a global scale, which in turn would help the farmers upgrade the products and better their lives and incomes. “We introduced entrepreneurial farming to them, so they take pride in being entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector,” says Helianti. She stresses that Javara is not selling Indonesia’s biodiversity; it is selling the story behind the products. Each item has a short description of the product on its packaging, as well as instructions on how best to prepare it. For example, on her package containing whole vanilla beans from Bali, it gives ideas on how to use the vanilla to flavor coffee, freshen the air, or mix with yogurt.

    Today, Javara produces 400 kinds of community-based products (about 800 SKUs), ranging from coconut oil to sea salt—all sourced from 50,000 small organic farmers scattered from Aceh to Papua. In developing these products, Javara introduced value-added technology to enable farmers to secure fair prices and bigger markets for their products. The group also provides access to investment and working capital to its farmers. 

    Helianti focuses on both the local and international markets. In the local market, today she has a network of over 500 stores that sell her products. But to really grow Javara, she realized she needed to go global, especially given the amount of product she could source from her supply network. Her desire was answered by the Swiss department store Globus in 2012, which approached Javara to distribute its products in its stores. It took almost a year for Javara products to pass the rigorous Swiss certification program for food imports but she finally got Javara into the prestigious Swiss market. “The European market has high standards,” says Helianti, who obtained a Master of Laws on Intellectual Property Rights from Kings College, University of London in 1998. To complete the process, she received support from local NGOs such as international development organization Swisscontact. “They said there are programs to help bring organic products to the European market,” says Helianti. She has also managed to have her products sold in Italy, Japan, Korea and the U.S. Javara isn’t only helping farmers. She also engages local craftsmen in the packaging as well, such as the jars used to package sea salt. “Balinese sea salt is one of the most popular products,” she says.