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. It was an honour, that this year I was given an opportunity to share some of my experience living and working in the UK, and at sharing some stories around Connect Indonesia, The Charity with the visiting students. The team was lead by Sonny Rustiadi, an Indonesian PhD researcher who is currently researching for his PhD at Goldsmith University.
The topics discussed with the students surrounding small business management in Indonesia, particularly in the field of handcrafted items. The students attended today have great ambitions to complete their MBA degrees and to land in a very successful career once graduated. A few of them have already started their own businesses and showing some signs of leadership but for many just nurturing a dream and hope that one day they will land in a job in a large organisation with lucrative salary.
During the discussion, we shared issues related to small online business development, an area which could be done with small capital, and can thrive well in a country like Indonesia. In Indonesia, people survive from small home industry, such as craft and crafts, food, commodities, etc. Most small businesses in Indonesia are run traditionally without any records or book-keeping. Most people running businesses for survival, with very little understanding of loss and profit. People don’t often claim salary when running businesses and they don’t have any records of incoming and outgoing. I feel that these MBA students could offer support and partnership to small businesses, help develop them to become a profitable small business. It is a great pity if these students could only dream of becoming an employee of a large organisation, limiting their potential to become real business leaders. Creating small organisations of their own and create employment along the way would solve some of the major employment issues in Indonesia at present.
Some of these students have created their own business, sadly most of them have created the business without any business plan, and not any proper account involved. It looks like business is considered business when they have something to sell and no profit to be made, or business isn’t actually growing. Completing an MBA course sounds grand, well, it should really produced graduates with great skills and capability to manage businesses. Unfortunately, Indonesian graduates still have a long way to go to change their mindset about being employed rather than create a business to employ others.
Universities in Indonesia need to create more workshops and forums to enable students to have open discussions about business opportunities upon completing their course. It is still a culture in the country to believe that going to university is to gain a degree certificate, not to gain employable skills to venture the business world. Students should be encouraged to network with small local businesses, offering their skills and talents in order to gain experience in the field.
My sincere gratitude to Sony Rustiadi who has given me the opportunity to meet with the students. We wish the MBA/PhD students the best of luck in their future endeavours.