Today was thus far the most interesting day for me. I not only walked to the ‘city’ twice but learned a great deal about the mobile industry in Indonesia and its trends around the world. However, today I would like to address an interesting interaction I had with the Indonesian students at @America. I met 3 girls, Gingo, Monica, and Herra. They first approached to me asking if I was the Korean student in the group. And for the next 20 minutes they talked about the Korean pop-stars and dramas which a half of those I never heard of. They knew more about the Korean music trend and what is on the TV at 9PM (dramas…). They seemed a little disappointing when I told them that I never heard of certain pop-groups. Yet we were able to have fun and continue the discussions due to the common ground we had.
Although my trip to Bali before arriving to Jakarta was not an official part of the study abroad program, I just thought I would go ahead and share my thoughts of the place as well as recommend a couple of places to visit in case anyone is interested in exploring this island sometime in the future…
My top-five list of everything that makes bali GREAT: (places, people, food, etc)
1. Ubud: The Sacred Monkey Forest, the amazing sights as well as the spirituality presen tin this part of Bali are bound to impress and inspire anyone.
I thought it was really interesting how lessons learned from previous crises have shaped and improved industries in Indonesia.
This recurring theme first became evident to me during our conversation with Jerry Ng and Manggi Habir regarding the Indonesian Banking Structure. Mr. Habir pointed out how the crisis of 98′ really affected the way Indonesian bankers approached business in the subsequent years. The changes they implemented in the system after this crisis ultimately helped them wether the 2008 financial crisis.
During the past fall semester, I had the opportunity to be part of a course on Women, Pease and Justice in the world. I found the class to be extremely worthwhile, as learning more about the concept of microfinance highlighted a way for me to combine my passion for social justice and women’s empowerment with saavy comm-school business principles.
As such, I found Mr. Ng’s business model for BPTN truly inspirational and motivating. One thing is to talk about microfinance and helping the productive poor by also “doing well” and reaping profits, and another thing is to actually be able to materialize such a combination. effectively.
Throughout the trip, President Obama certainly comes up quite often in discussions with the native people of Indonesia. Many locals have said great things about President Obama and even mentioned that President Obama alone can change the Indonesian perception of Americans. When I think about our perceptions as Americans of our president, I can’t say we have the same beliefs and confidence that the Indonesians have. Before I arrived in Jakarta, I heard about Bill O’Reiley’s book, titled Pinheads and Patriots and the book questioned President Obama’s patriotism to the country. I’ve have heard endless amounts of ridiculous criticisms as well. I’ve heard that Obama was actually born in Kenya and violates the constitution. I’ve heard criticisms about Obama’s middle name and his Muslim background, and I think about how Indonesians would have a bad perception of America because we’re so eager to criticize someone they think is so great. Certainly it would also be offensive to the largest Muslim country in the world to hear that a country is criticizing its president for having Muslim roots. It will be interesting to see how our perceptions of Obama will change as we recover from our economic crisis and how our relations will continue to change with President Obama in office.
Yesterday I visited 3 places. Here are some notes about my visits, they’re not complete but I just want to highlight a few key things that I learned:
1. First we headed to Bogor to visit one of PTBN branches, an Indonesian bank that focuses solely pensions and retail loans. We got to see an actual field transaction at a wholesale shoe shop in a local “wet” market, which is basically a traditional market. The banks are strategically built around traditional markets because the customer potential is higher. Each branch is meant to serve a radius of 10 km so there is no overlapping of customers, thus there can be multiple branches in the same region.
Yesterday, we were lucky to get the chance to visit BTPN bank’s Bogor branch. Later we went directly to Japfa comfeed’s headquarter. The way the bank operates on the daily basis amazed me because it is so well organized and standardized. From customer record notebook to dashboard, everything is in such a detailed plan. Also, I learned a lot at Japfa Comfeed. Born in a big city, I know little about food production and how food companies run their businesses. The discussion helped me to gain insights about food industry, not specifically Indonesian food production but the whole food industry in general. The dinner at Mr. White’s house was really great and full of Magic!
It’s been just three days since my arrival to Jakarta, but a week before I traveled to Malaysia, having been graciously hosted by the Beh family in Ipoh. My first experiences with South East Asia were expected to be grand ones, but a scale like this was unexpected. I feel rather like the Artist of Kouroo, searching for perfection and absolution through foreign land, transcending time and physical constraint that had so often previously drawn a grey veil between the surrounding world and my self.
We had a very interesting opportunity to visit Japfa Comfeed, Indonesia’s largest poultry company. Japfa also raises and sells beef, feed, and aquaculture, and it markets many consumer products such as chicken nuggets, battered shrimp, chicken wings, etc. Indonesian’s only consume an average of 6 kg of poultry per year (versus over 70 kg average for Americans). Yet, as incomes grow, Indonesian’s are increasingly adding more poultry to their diets (as it is less expensive than beef–and pork is not desirable to the largest Muslim country in the world).
Throughout all of our visits here I’ve noticed limited views of America as a business partner. Culturally, our experiences here have proven that the two nations are extremely different and I think this has been limiting our business relations with Indonesia. In our meeting with the embassy I was surprised to hear just how many resources the United States puts into supporting infrastructure, democracy, and education (to name a few). I think it’s great that we are recognizing the value of putting resources towards the development of this emerging market society, but it struck me that perhaps the Indonesians are not necessarily taking full advantage of the US presence here. It seems like only occassionally have the Indonesian business leaders acknowledged the potential resource that the American market represents. Across the board, the country seems to be content in staying domestic in the business sense. I hope that with our President’s connections to this country, we will begin to see more business interaction between our nations as Indonesia continues to develop.