Fostering Entrepreneurship
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1628 Date : Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 21:03:29

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia, wardrobe by Luwi Saluadji

    Bahlil Lahadalia, 39, just recently became the new chairman of the Indonesia Young Entrepreneur Association (HIPMI), succeeding the previous chairman, Raja Sapta Oktohari. Bahlil is the first chairman that comes from Papua, elected after two rounds of voting, beating Bayu Priawan Djokosoetono of the Blue Bird group. Bahlil is a businessman with interests in several sectors such as mining, infrastructure and investment with PT Rifa Capital as his holding company.

    What are your plans as the new chairman of HIPMI?
    HIPMI was established 43 years ago and it aims to increase prosperity through entrepreneurship. HIPMI was founded to encourage the next generations to become entrepreneurs and I don’t want to be derailed from that mission. HIPMI has two benefits for its members: leadership, and business and political intelligence. A company needs those qualities and HIPMI is a place to hone those skills. Today we are facing the ASEAN Economic Community, so our entrepreneurs need a good network and professionalism, and HIPMI can be an instrument for those.

    There are two kinds of entrepreneurs, one that succeeds in the family business and the other that creates his own business. In the future we need more youth to become entrepreneurs. It means we have to encourage more college graduates to become entrepreneurs. According to our recent survey, there are around five million undergraduates from Aceh to Papua and 80% of them only wanted to be an employee. My biggest challenge is changing the mindset of college graduates so that more want to become entrepreneurs.

    What kind of improvement do you want to bring to HIPMI?
    I’m here as an example of a member that paved the way from the bottom; I started from the lowest rank in HIPMI more than a decade ago until I became the chairman. I was born in a poor family; my father was a construction worker and I had to sell snacks when I was in elementary school so that I can continue school, and I also became an angkot driver in high school to support my family. Usually only the son of generals or established entrepreneurs that can be the chairman of HIPMI, so I want to show that everyone has the same rights to be an entrepreneur. A good leader has three tasks, to inspire, create grand ideas, and execute those ideas. An example that inspires is important, because Indonesians prefer examples than theories.

    What motivates you to become the chairman of HIPMI?
    I want to be the chairman because it was my calling. Before I was a nobody, no one knew me in business and it was HIPMI that taught me and made me what I am today. It is my responsibility to give back to the organization.

    How will HIPMI influence the next generation?
    We have a program called “HIPMI goes to campus” that is an incubator so that college students will be more motivated to become an entrepreneur. It also a source for us to get new members. We also plan to make it easier for people who want to start a business.

    How do you want to make it easier for people to start a business?
    We have created some initiatives, such as suggesting the government make regulations to encourage new entrepreneurs. Our current regulations do not support new entrepreneurs, especially banking regulations. To obtain a loan an entrepreneur has to show a company balance sheet for three years, how they can do that if they only just graduated from college and want to start a company?

    How do you see the growth of entrepreneurship in Indonesia?
    We are lagging behind our neighboring countries in Southeast Asia; currently we only have 1.3% who are entrepreneurs from a total population of more than 250 million, while the ideal number is 2%. Other countries such as Singapore has 7%, while Malaysia has 4.5%, so we have to catch up. Meanwhile the national economy cannot be concentrated in one region—Java currently accounts of 60% of national consumption.

    As an entrepreneur who comes from outside Java, I see this is unfair. HIPMI should support the creation of new economic zones so that other regions can develop and strengthen the national economy. We would also like the government to create a regulation making local entrepreneurs a partner in every investment into their region—we want local entrepreneurs to be an integral part of every investment.

    How HIPMI will support small and midsized enterprises?
    When I was elected I met with the president and I said that this nation has been unfair. SMEs kept the nation’s economy running even in the worst conditions,  such as during the 1998 crisis. Now after the economy has gotten better, the government hasn’t given strong support to the SMEs. Some examples are the high interest rates for SMEs and a loan growth for the SME sector of only at 5%. HIPMI has always fought for this issue. I want the interest rate for SMEs to be single digit as in China or Malaysia. We are also lacking in infrastructure, which makes logistics costs high and prevents SMEs from being more competitive.

    What do you want to achieve on your term as chairman?
    I want to increase HIPMI’s membership; currently we have around 50,000 members. To reach 2% of the population as entrepreneurs, we still need millions to become entrepreneurs. Starting a company has multiplier effects, contributing income to the government through taxes and creating employment. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of the nation, and this nation is calling on the youth to take part.