By Nelly Andon
On behalf of Connect Indonesia, The Charity team.
Institute Technology Bandung (ITB) with their MBA programme is sending a group of MBA students annually to the UK, working collaboratively with Goldsmith University, London. I am back networking with the MBA group from this year programme. In 2013, we casually met at Wisma Merdeka, in North London, but this year the meeting took place in one of the classrooms at Goldsmith University, in South East London.
This year, the discussions were around online business opportunities in Indonesia, making the most of available products and eCommerce tools in the country today. The rapid development of internet technology globally gave rise to the concept and practice of e-commerce, which has become a common phenomenon in the world today. Internet-based economic structures and information groups are the new business reality, as organisations and individuals are enjoying the simplicity of global trading and purchasing. Most developing countries, however, are far from experiencing this reality due to many factors which act as obstacles for e-commerce to flourish, these obstacles are crystal clear in Indonesia and in great need of elimination.
Trying to keep up with the rapid developments in internet and e-commerce technology is a great challenge for businesses in Indonesia. We all know that there is a growing evidence that small businesses in the developed world and some in developing countries are gaining substantially from managing e-businesses online. The increase of internet adoption and usage in Indonesia is such phenomenon, Indonesia is probably one of the highest user of Social Media tools in the world, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Although many users of social media tools are making the most of these tools to market their businesses or to sell products, this adoption is nothing near as good as proper eCommerce.
During this meeting, we had an open discussion related to global online trading and the use of available tools to help small business owners to grow their businesses globally. We concentrated on some of the major global tools and online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay and Facebook, and the use of PayPal for global payment. I am confident that Indonesia would benefit hugely from these online tools, particularly businesses selling arts and crafts products. Whilst Indonesia is extremely good at producing these items, sadly they are not very good at selling them.
I strongly believe that if any of this MBA students would take advantage of their internet and marketing skills, and explore working in partnership with local small businesses which lack these skills, together they can exploit the internet as a tool for global trading. This could contribute greatly to the economic growth in Indonesia.
I am fully aware that there are certain negative perceptions about Indonesian traders or buyers globally. For example, right up to around 2006, PayPal payment was not available to Indonesians, and eBay was also not open to Indonesian traders or buyers. These problems arose as a result of global complaints towards dishonest Indonesian traders or buyers. Other issued related to eCommerce in Indonesia is internet payment security, where there are too many hackers about in this country. People are too scared to put credit card information via an Indonesian website, in fear of their personal details or card information being stolen.
Other major obstacle related to the development of eCommerce in Indonesia, is the unreliability and dishonesty of Pos Indonesia, as the major global delivery service provider in the country. Pos Indonesia’s services are so unreliable, it is actually lik a joke. Pos Indonesia, could be the most magical tool this country can use to support its global trading, but fixing the mindset of the people running this organisation and the people working here, would be a great challenge. The saga continues for now.
I hope, the students will take this discussion seriously, and explore some of the issues discussed and experiment working in partnership with the local businesses when they have completed their course. I wish them all the best of luck for the future.