Helping SMEs to Grow
    Category: Column By : Hermawan Kartajaya Read : 1024 Date : Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 01:46:23

    My friend, Minister of Culture and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Anies Baswedan inspired me with his “Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar” (Teaching Indonesia Movement). To Anies, a movement is always better than a program because a movement doesn’t have budget constraints. “Don’t only rely on government programs because state budget will always be limited,” he said when officiating “Gerakan Indonesia WOW” (Indonesia WOW Movement) in November 2014 on Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) Jakarta.

    The then President-Elect Jokowi signed the declaration along with the rock band Slank and the RRI head Niken Widyastuti. Aiming to make Indonesia WOW in the five years, I jumpstarted the movement by focusing first on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

    Around 99% of Indonesian companies are classified as SMEs but only a fraction will ever expand to scale. In addition, there are more than 209,000 cooperatives in Indonesia but many of them are not yet well managed. Imagine the outcome if we empower them.

    When I visited the Yunus Center in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I realized empowering the SMEs in Bangladesh is done effectively by NGOs. I also noticed that BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, uses the umbrella brand “Aarong” to market products by SMEs. A similar model might work in Indonesia.

    I became more enthusiastic when I learned that the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Puspayoga is quietly transforming his ministry. A low profile minister from Bali, Puspayoga sets an example by eating lunch in the canteen, riding in a Kijang and flying economy. He initiated the registration of cooperatives by utilizing the Department of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises in all local regencies and cities.

    One time, there was a feedback from Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengku Bawono X. Indonesian SMEs often complained of counterfeiting when they joined exhibitions in Malaysia. The minister acted quickly by lobbying the law and human rights ministry to allow free registration of intellectual property. The registration is online and can be done in one day. Another collaboration was with the ministry of home affairs to allow Camat (sub-district heads) to issue permit for SMEs. The permit is useful particularly to apply for bank loans. With the trade ministry, the collaboration was done to distribute subsidized fertilizers through cooperatives.

    To support Minister Puspayoga with his non-state budget programs, I approached Astra International and BCA with to revamp the SMESCO exhibition space. We plan to relaunch the space as “Galeri Indonesia WOW” (Indonesia WOW Gallery) in August. The gallery will showcase a curated collection of 500 SMEs that embody entrepreneurship and innovation. It will have exhibition space as well as co-working space and meeting spots. Investment firm TRG Investama has shown interest in developing the curated SMEs.

    As a start, the movement is undergoing a “Mental Revolution” to thousands of SMEs in 18 cities in Indonesia. We want these enterprises to have strong outlook starting with their own founders. They must always be honest, proud, independent and creative. They must also have mutual respect and be ready to collaborate with anyone. They must aim to attract investors and not just wait for government and corporate funding.