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Business Sense and Life Lessons In Indonesia


For the lucky ones, our jobs are something that engages us, defines and communicated to the rest of the world who we are and sustains us to live.

For the majority of people however, the work they do both defines and burdens them at the same time. It might be fair to say that fate has a hand in this, but if you look at the Indonesian attitude to work, you realise that ultimately the difference between these two parties of people comes down to choice.

This overwhelming insight I gathered from my recent travels to Indonesia, a country with 255 million people – the fourth-most-populous country in the world.

Indonesia, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, bears a branding of excellence primarily because of the Indonesian people, their attitudes and choices.

One afternoon in Bali, in the midst of a shopping stroll, I sat down to order a drink at a restaurant that looked like it had just opened. Waitresses were busy setting up for the day when I picked my seat under a frangipani tree. In the blink of an eye one waitress nearby, who had been watering the plants, threw down the hosepipe she was using and ran over to assist me. Her smile seemed to have been running across her face for days. None of the feelings of annoyance and inconvenience I’m afraid to say typify the service industry in Namibia.

Indonesia has an unemployment rate of 6.18% only! The country is densely populated and most positions of employment are filled. Only 1.65% of the population is classed as entrepreneurs. So you’ve got limited jobs, a small number of entrepreneurs and yet a relatively low unemployment rate – very low at least by our standards.

The Namibia Statistics Agency just announced that in Namibia youth unemployment sits at 43.4%, an outrageous number for a country so small.

I spoke to the co-founder and CEO of SP Production, an Indonesian man by the name of Sintong H Hutabarat, to find out where the secret of their success lies.  “It’s not easy to get job in Indonesia especially in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia”, he says. “There’s no easy work in business as all businesses need hard work, patience, service and the right spirit to make money.”

Now while this may be true in every country, the key in this statement is placing hard work as the first priority on the list of requirements to become successful in business. Sintong goes on to explain that the one “who can survive this and still continue to innovate is the one who will still exist as a business person.”

Indonesians have made these philosophies part of who they are, and men and women have innovated to such an extent that you’ll find businesses like mobile motorcycle refuelling stations next to busy intersections, people who have made collecting rubbish and recycling their main source of income, and other such demonstrations of the acumen and determination of the people of Indonesia. You’ll also commonly find people who are employed, starting work long before the standard eight o clock in the morning and leaving their offices long after the worlds typical 5 o’clock departure time. Not because it burdens them to do so, but because Indonesians are people of great respect, determination and dedication and ultimately mastery. It is this approach to working life that has set the Indonesians apart and resulted in them being called a powerhouse in Asia and the world. As Sintong explains: “Business is all about service, quality, compassion and respect.”

This work culture can act as a model of success to people from all over the world who want to achieve economic strength. In business and in life, if you want to stand out, then you have to be willing to put in, because your destiny lies in no one other than your own hands. In doing so, the people of Indonesia also demonstrate proud patriotism as their combined efforts is ultimately what builds their nation.


MYD’s Manager, Kirsty Watermeyer recently travelled to Indonesia on a media familiarisation trip to bring back to Namibians the stories, treasures and insights of Indonesia. Over the next two weeks the MYD Platform will be uncovering all that is Wonderful Indonesia.


Street Life in Indo

If you want to travel to Indonesia then be sure to take a look at the Wonderful Indonesia Travel website here, where you’ll find information, travel tips and ideas to plan your stay : Wonderful Indonesia