Recently, the term ‘youth entrepreneurship’ has become a buzzword in many parts of the world, including Indonesia. It has become an alternative solution to the problem of youth unemployment faced in the country. With lack of sufficient jobs in the formal economy, Indonesia continues to promote entrepreneurship, especially among the youths, for its potential of job creation and poverty reduction. According to a report by International Labour Organization (ILO), there are around 17 ministries and national institutions in Indonesia which are currently implementing programs on youth entrepreneurship. Some of the programs provide training and mentoring sessions for youths to start-up micro businesses, while other programs facilitate and give access to finance. However, the report noted that there are inadequate programs which try to improve the entrepreneurship environment.
One of the facilities provided by the government is aimed to ease youth to start a business by helping them in financing their capital, through the Youth Entrepreneurship Financing Body (in Indonesian: Lembaga Permodalan Kewirausahaan Pemuda) managed by the Ministry of Youth. Other similar facilities are also provided in several provincial and local levels as well. However, some may criticize that due to lack of information published, many young Indonesians are not aware of the availability of such programs and facilities.
With the size of the Indonesian population, the number of young entrepreneurs are also increasing. Many are inspired by the successful stories of other entrepreneurs and try to follow their steps. Amongst them is Nadiem Makarim, founder and leader of Go-Jek. Go-Jek tries to connect motorcycle taxis, called “ojek” in Indonesia, with people who need a ride or a delivery. Simply, it is the ‘Uber’ of the motorcycle world. Through the service, customers can order a Go-Jek to either transport them to their destination or ask the Go-Jek driver to deliver goods or parcels, order food or even shop for them. Not only does it offer convenience to the customers, it also improves the welfare of ojek drivers, who work in an informal sector. Despite some hurdles in the early years, such as lack of legal framework and negative response from conventional ojek drivers, today, Go-Jek operates in 25 cities all over in Indonesia and has more than 200,000 fleets.
Beside Nadiem, Achmad Zaky, the founder of Bukalapak, inspires many Indonesian youths. Bukalapak, is a customer-to-customer (C2C) online marketplace dedicated for small to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. Born in 1986, he initially had an idea to make a noodle stall using the money he earned from winning numerous competitions as capital to start the business. However, it didn’t go well and it led to bankruptcy. Instead of giving up after failing his business, he started an online shopping website which then became the starting idea for Bukalapak. After two months of developing Bukalapak’s core website, they opened it to the market. However, there weren’t many people that wanted to join Bukalapak and the fact that there were not many tech-savvy people in Indonesia at that time did not help either. The problem didn’t stop Zaky in promoting Bukalapak, instead, he educated merchants, telling them that they could reach more people through the service. Since then, Bukalapak has grown fast. Through Bukalapak that he founded and developed, Achmad Zaky was named as one of Asia’s top 10 technopreneurs under 30.
In addition to Nadiem Makarim and Achmad Zaky, there are more young Indonesians who ventured and became entrepreneurs. Some of them are more successful than others. Despite the fact that inequalities and lack of infrastructures remain as challenges, the world of youth entrepreneurship in Indonesia looks promising. It boosts the country’s economy and becomes alternative solution to youth unemployment and poverty in Indonesia.
By Muhammad Fathi Rayyan, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia