Budding Entrepreneurship

12, May 2016.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – When working on his computer at home in Medan, North Sumatra, Adjie Kurniawan, 19, settles into implacable focus. He often forgets to eat. A few weeks back, he worked a whole day and night designing a logo for the Medan Indonesian Women’s Forum. That time, he forgot to sleep.

Since junior high school, Adjie has been earning money as a graphic designer. “My parents know that I’m not simply playing computer games, but rather that I’m being productive and earning money from it,” said the information management student at Unggul Polytechnic in Medan.

Adjie began his business while still a senior in high school. He had attended a training program organized by the local education agency in September of 2015. After passing the selection test, he joined a training cohort of 600 students in Medan. The session also offered participants to join a competition.

Adjie’s team-consisting of Ika Savitri, Ika Syahfitri, Andi and Setiawan Julianto-were among the five groups to receive Rp2 million from Bank Sumatra Utara for their winning idea. Their’s, apparently, turned out to be a winning presentation. “We had manipulated our mobile phones so that they could be used as laser pointers during our presentation,” Adjie said.

The Medan education agency launched the entrepreneurial training series back in 1996. The curriculum unit head of the agency, Zul Hanif, said the program was established because opportunities for employment, despite the special skills obtained by students from vocational education, were increasingly hard to come by. “By equipping youngsters with entrepreneurial programs, we hoped they could create their own jobs,” he said two weeks ago.

Initially, the education agency tried to introduce the initiative into the official vocational school curriculum. But, said Zul, the strategy was not effective as teachers generally knew little about business startups.

In 2010, the agency began bringing in real-world practitioners to what became a once-a-year program involving 200 vocational school students divided into small groups of three to five persons.

Successful entrepreneurs and experts were brought in from small-, medium- and large-scale firms, as well as from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) and the Financial Services Authority (OJK). “We hoped the knowhow of practitioners could motivate vocation school students to become entrepreneurs,” Zul said.

The presence of experts injected much enthusiasm among participants, helping the program take off. One trainer, Tetty Juliati, said several students stayed from 8am to 7pm without a break. “During the break, they chose to consult with us rather than have lunch or go chat with friends,” he said.

The lessons imparted by these ‘business gurus’ varied according to their area in expertise. Tetty, a lecturer of strategic management at the Medan Harapan Institute of Economic Sciences (STIE), instructed the students on how to create a business plan and turn it into a proposal. Creating business plans, said Tetty, also give students insights into management, finance and production.

Zul Hanif said students’ brainstorming sessions with business practitioners very often triggered a number of creative business ideas. Among them were a soursop-based cancer medication, lamps with universal serial bus (USB) inputs and a signal jammer for spaces, such as prayer-halls and classrooms, where cell phones may not be used.

After producing proposals, each group gave a presentation on its business idea. This year, five groups with products considered ‘most marketable’ were given seed money by Bank Sumatera Utara. “The amount was small, but we expected it to give the youngsters a legup in starting their business,” Zul said.

However, only 15 percent of participants put what they learned into practice. “It’s difficult for most of them find initial capital,” Tetty explained. (*)



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