Many of our regular readers will be aware of ABV’s YES (Your Enterprise Scheme) program. All of our recent YES programs have focused on the Pacific. However 2016 has seen ABV delivering a YES model program in Indonesia, in partnership with Germany’s aid agency GIZ. The month-long program which interspersed five one-day workshops with face-to-face mentoring took place in Mataram, on the island of Lombok.

Implemented by volunteers drawn from ABV’s registry of senior business professionals and small business owners ABV has run nearly 40 YES model programs across Indonesia and the Pacific. As they are all highly experienced business people themselves, ABV’s volunteers are effective in mentoring and building the capacities of small businesses. For each program the content is tailored to meet the needs of the particular audience, and so because of its importance to the Lombok economy, ABV made sure this program met the needs of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Twenty three participants took part, each the owner or manager of a tourism-related business. Gracia, who owns ‘Tropicalola’, was one of the eager participants, seeing the program as a great opportunity to gain insights from business professionals. In Gracia’s words, “The workshops and our meetings have opened up my mind”. Tropicalola produces and markets a unique range of cosmetic products suitable for tourists, and online sales. Since commencing the business in January 2016 Tropicalola has combined low cost production methods with in-house label and packaging design. Gracia constantly engaged with the ABV volunteers Jan Norton and Allan Kindt during the program, seeking advice and putting new skills and knowledge into practice. Within weeks Tropicalola had received an offer to supply wedding souvenirs, had significantly increased stock levels both in outlets and on-hand and secured additional outlets. While success is never guaranteed Tropicalola now has business management practices in place which will be vital to growth.

ABV focuses on working with small businesses under the YES program and other development models as its mission is to enable a strong and vibrant private sector, and small businesses are absolutely essential to broad-based economic participation. In the words of a recent UN-WTO International Finance Corporation report – ‘small and medium enterprises are the missing link to inclusive growth’.

SMEs are a huge part of the Indonesian economy providing around 97% of employment, but they only make up 58% of total GDP, and 16% of exports. Statistics like these indicate there should be significant opportunities for SMEs to become more efficient, access international markets and at the same time build a more inclusive and equitable Indonesia. Indonesian and international experts understand this. ABV was funded to deliver this YES under the Sustainable Regional Economic Growth and Investment Program (a collaboration between GIZ, the Indonesian national planning board BAPPENAS, and local authorities). With our increased focus on Indonesia ABV will be looking to partner with business and donors to deliver many more similar programs across the country in the coming period.

Australian Business Volunteers