Ahok, “The Mad Man” of Jakarta, Tells Us More about His Views on Entrepreneurship and Jakarta (2- end)

ahokAhok previously touched on plurality and creativity as the nation’s potential.

He was again pissed off as he found out a shocking fact. Upon knowing it took several days for a letter to reach his working desk, he casually went curious and questioned his subordinates. “I want all of the letters for me came to me right away no matter what. How many people in charge of letters are there?,”Ahok recounted. Twenty five people were known to be in charge of it. We all can imagine how ineffective the bureaucracy of Jakarta has been and we somehow don’t think it’s too surprising but having 25 people to handle letters in an office for a governor is undoubtedly a waste of resources.

Needless to say, he was enraged at the inefficient approach. Ahok later opened a single desk for all letters written for him as the governor. He wants to read these letters as soon as they arrive. “I want no one from my staff filters any letters for me,”Ahok firmly stated.

He fervently wishes there will be more entrepreneurs a.k.a. job creators in town. And to attract more entrepreneurs and encourage them to set up businesses in Jakarta, Ahok conveyed a message of change to all of business folks: Jakarta is changing.

Ahok is deeply concerned about the low sense of trust grassroots give nowadays to public officials like him. And he knows to well he has to work hard to change it.

“All we (Jakarta) have is location, to be frank,” he spoke. If people have a creative idea, are trained, permitted to operate, they might as well get funded by the government. “We also subsidize fledgling entrepreneurs who need to exhibit their products or services.”

Under Ahok’s command, the government of DKI Jakarta has begun a local, culinary-focused business incubator at Monumen Nasional (Monas), Central Jakarta. There are 339 people (micro businessmen, street vendors) trained in the incubator. They were trained to cook and serve foods more hygienically and professionally. Once they have funds and want to expand, they should move out of the location.

Ahok can’t be fooled so easily. Some of the street vendors tried to take advantage of this facility generously provided for them. Ahok found out that these dishonest people sold their kiosks at Monas for 200 million rupiahs. They sold the space to others instead of truly running their culinary business there to come back to their hometown only to remarry women and build a decent house. And what happens next? These people come back to Jakarta and sell foods like what they did before the government trained and funded them.

“That’s why we now are really really stringent!” Ahok explained. Knowing Indonesian law enforcement is too weak to prevent such cases from recurring in the future, Ahok had an idea. A brilliant one, I should say. All these street vendors are to have ATM cards issued officially by Bank DKI as their identity cards. That way, any violations can be taken to court, only this time with more severe, more serious punishment. Ahok knows it’s against the law to
counterfeit ATM cards and if these street vendors – who have been trained, funded and provided a strategic space to run businesses – forge the cards, they should get prepared of being put behind bars for at least 12 years. “They said I’m so cruel. I said,’Now you all know!'”

He later emphasized Jakarta is the best opportunity for entrepreneurs. They provide one-stop service for handling the business permits. “No need to bribe. You can tell me if you’re told you must bribe,” he said. “I work for this, to have fights against all these violations. For the sake of you all.”

Ahok promised for entrepreneurs to give space to ‘show off’ products at Monas, which he assumes to be the most commercially attractive landmark of all. He is committed to help entrepreneurs who can produce something. To fund potential entrepreneurs, Ahok will push Bank DKI to provide more capitals for them.

Speaking of the traffic jam issue and city plan, Ahok likened Jakarta to Chicago in 1920’s. It was all chaotic and messy with buildings and properties erected with no certain guidance. To add to the mess, the traffic was worsening from time to time. Not to mention, the Chicago goverment was as corrupt as we all are now.

He also challenges all of Indonesian public officials to implement and ratify the United Nations advice on combatting corruption in the public government. He strongly advocates this idea to be applied in Indonesia. “But there needs to be raises in salaries at first,” he said in an understanding tone.

Thus far Ahok, apart from his being a minority, has managed to show his capability of working as a competent public official. Yes, he is blatant, overly outspoken most of the time, so outspoken he annoy and offend some. But as we all realize we really need this type of man to drag our people forward. This donkey needs to wake up and work his way up, stop complaining and start achieving. And Ahok is ready with his whip so the donkey stand up and start to run, to become a stallion, or even better, a unicorn flying to the sky.

Two Things Foreign Entrepreneurs Complain Most About Indonesia

“To build business in Indonesia is actually really good,”said he. Steven Kim of Qraved.com claims the reason is because Indonesians are familiar with English. This is considered a plus. Language barrier is minimum. It’s also network-oriented. “When I worked for Zalora Singapore, it was very tough because there were additional problems I had to solve.”

Indonesia, however, needs to fix these two things: INTERNET and TRAFFIC. The Internet speed is miserable, I should say. No service provider can solve it by consistently doing great at every place. On and off Internet connection, there’s nothing more pissing avid Internet users off than that. Even wi-fi connection doesn’t really provide satisfactory speed you’ve always wanted. But if you’re used to super fast Internet such as one in Korea just like Mr. Kim, of course it’s understood you’d whine over the speed here.

Meanwhile, the traffic issue especially holds true in Jakarta. Painfully clogged and chaotically managed. Needless to say. And it takes more years to untangle the mess because it’s the accumulation of problems spanning for decades.

English for Indonesian Entrepreneurs:Is That Necessary?

‎I was wondering if writing a book about English for Indonesian entrepreneurs will help them win international pitching competitions. This idea suddenly popped out of my mind this afternoon as I was watching a literary publisher at Digital Publishing session at Ubud Writers Readers Festival 2014 taking place at a cool coworking space named Hubud.

I remembered Indonesia Young Entrepreneurs founder Christovita Wiloto telling me about the fact that English has become a huge challenge for Indonesian entrepreneurs to go international. And I cannot agree more on this. I saw several pitchings of Indonesian startups at some events meant for global audience, which means they were required to pitch and answer questions from panelists in full English. Sadly, most of the time they sucked. Their English command is far from decent. This language barrier proves to be a subverting factor to their overall confidence on stage. They have the huge ideas, but they don’t master the tool to get their ideas across. And as a language enthusiast, I suppose they should get some help.

That said, do you think it’s necessary to write such a book? Leave a comment on this please.

Overwork or Underwork? You Decide

‎I read the other day an article endorsing the idea of “work harder, fellows!” and days before that, I happened to see someone – a serial entrepreneur – with a suggestion of less work, more productivity in order to achieve the work-life balance. I just nodded and came up with my own opinion. I am no entrepreneur, nor do I plan to be one, at least for now, but I suppose the issue is relevant to employees and employers alike. Here is my stance.

The first entrepreneur, or I should say, the future entrepreneur, criticized the laid back culture in Indonesia. He claimed that Indonesians ‎are laid back, much too laid back to compete with the others. I am convinced, by ‘laid back’, he means LAZY. He highlighted in his writeup how unpunctual and undisciplined workers here may get often times. Look at east Asian nations, he wrote somewhat emotionally. They work harder so it goes without saying they are leaving Indonesia behind, far behind. He lamented the consumptive mindset of Indonesians and strongly call for better work ethics. He stated that he was anxious whether the nation would stay consumptive all the time and remain to be audiences in the arena of global entrepreneurship.

The second entrepreneur – who is more seasoned – advises that entrepreneurs or business owners encourage their employees to get a life outside after office hours. They must have some fun, or mingle with friends, date someone they like, watch movies, or whatever ‎they love to do.

To me, ‎both are two different end of a spectrum. None is wrong absolutely. Rather, in my opinion, they are the two phases every startup has to undergo. The first phase requires entrepreneurs to work days and nights, virtually 24 hours 7 days a week. As their businesses grow, flourish and strengthen their position in the market, they definitely cannot relax. The work-as-hard-as-you-can ethos very much applies to this. But then once their businesses are getting stable, there is no need to work that hard. They need to find the balance point ‎to work for passion without getting burned out by its ‘flame’, because who cares how much you are passionate about something? Your body and mind are not machines. Wait a minute, even machines need an overhaul once in a while!

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