Business ties between Singapore and Indonesia are set to strengthen further when for the first time, a private initiative by BISA (Business Indonesia of Singapore) for a regular series of monthly Business Forums was launched in February. Participants from both sides of the border are meeting together regularly in an informal atmosphere of business mixed with cultural entertainment and food on the last Wednesday of each month at the Peninsula Excelsior Hotel ballroom. It is also typically how Indonesia presents events where cultural performances such as dances, fashion shows and duets by pop singers precede the more serious agenda of exploring business opportunities.

“Now with the parliamentary elections over, there is even greater interest from Singapore and Indonesian businesses. BISA’s monthly Business Forum is an excellent way to find out more information, gain insights and contacts for introductions and follow-ups for doing business in Indonesia. We have presented business topics that are of special interest to anyone wanting to have direct access to major industry experts from Indonesia and there are specific business matching network sessions planned for the whole of this year,” said Stephanus Widjaja, co-founder of BISA.

This was confirmed by the business forum’s inaugural keynote speech from Mr Ridwan Hassan, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indonesian embassy in Singapore who stressed to the 100 participants on the potential of Indonesia. Singapore businesses cannot afford to ignore a market as large as 250 million people (the fourth largest in the world) and he was glad that BISA is playing an active role in promoting trade between the two countries.

What was most invaluable, was the opportunity the audience had to listen to experts in different fields share their experiences and answer questions from the floor as well as interact during the networking sessions that followed, to listen and gauge for themselves direct feedback on the Indonesian scene. We present some of the highlights of their presentation and encourage readers to check out the upcoming programme for the next BISA Business Forum.

Indira Abidin: Indonesian Media

Mrs Indira Abidin, the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Consultant of Fortune Pramana Rancang (PR), Indonesia’s leading public relations company, gave a presentation to BISA Forum attendees on the subject of Indonesian Media & Consumer Overview in February, the pros and cons of using the country’s main traditional media channels to new online social media platforms. Fortune PR is part of Fortune Indonesia Tbk, the country’s largest advertising and communications company. Fortune PR has won numerous regional awards as the top PR consultancy and Mrs Indira herself has been recognised as one of Indonesia’s top women professionals as a recipient of the Indonesia Women Award given by the government.

Mrs Indira highlighted how marketers should take note of the growth of social media in the Indonesian communications landscape and how pervasive it is in Indonesia society today. She dubbed it the ‘Digital Lifestyle,’ and shared studies that showed Indonesia has an online population of 73 million (as of end 2013). Internet users’ growth is anticipated to grow to 83.6 million in 2014 and 93.4 million by 2015. This market is dominated by the younger generation in the 12- to 34-year olds (58.4 per cent).

Mamiek Slamet Leonardo: The Indonesian Consumer

Other insights were also provided on the profile of the ‘Indonesian Consumer’ by Mr Mamiek Slamet Leonardo, the Research Director of the DEKA Research Group, the largest Indonesian independent research group established in 1995. He first gave statistics that gave a thumbnail picture of the 16th largest economy in the world. There is a growing middle class that currently forms about 41 per cent of the population with 50 per cent of it consisting of a young population who are more productive and educated.

Mr Mamiek also presented information on the “Indonesian Personality” – the eight psychographic segments that together characterised the people as loving tranquility and social conservatism; a community loving society where family and friends receive the top priorities in their lives. He gave an example about the implications for marketers: The effort to stay close to families and friends greatly affects how Indonesian interact, they prefer to spend time in groups, even when travelling and try their best to stay together so it is not surprising MPVs are so popular amongst Indonesians.

Michael Goutama & Harri Santoso:Doing Business & Investing in Indonesia

At the Doing Business In Indonesia, The Regulation & Procedure in March, Mr Michael Goutama, the Vice-Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) Singapore Committee, introduced the theme of this session and together with Mr M Harri Santoso, the head of the Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia (BKPM) in Singapore, they provided a comprehensive overview of what businesses can expect by providing a macro economic and investment statistics, opportunities and general outlook. Mr M Harri Santoso gave a spirited presentation on Investing in Indonesia and his personable presentation style won over the audience to ask many questions about doing business in Indonesia. Both presenters gave many practical advice as well as provided the “HOW” they can capture the business opportunities in Indonesia.

Mr Goutama first introduced the audience to KADIN, the only organisation established by law in Indonesia to represent the private sector, and its role of working with the Government of Indonesia to improve the business and investment climate; it coordinates business organisations and associations and KADIN is present in all provinces, regencies and cities in Indonesia.

He shared the good news about how potential investors intending to do business in Indonesia can now look forward to much improvements in the business environment with better business transparency and compliance to international standards. There have been many bureacratic reforms which have improved public services and regulatory environment for foreign companies. The prognosis is good as Indonesia looks forward to welcoming an estimated 90 million joining the consuming class by 2030.

In the follow-up to the presentation above, the practical information was also provided on guidelines and processes for setting up various types of companies in Indonesia. In this presentation by Siraj El Munir, an Indonesian lawyer of Siraj Bustami Law Firm on behalf of Fortune PR, offered various packages for Singapore businesses interested in setting up a company in Indonesia. They include legal, business consultancy and coaching, marketing, distribution, research, marketing and digital communications.

Panca Rudolf Sarungu: Travel & Tourism Indonesia

In the last BISA Business Forum in May, Mr Panca Rudolf Sarungu spoke on the Travel and Tourism Industry in Indonesia. The CEO of PT Raja MICE, one of the most established travel companies there and also a pioneer in the field of travel industry exhibitions in Indonesia. Mr Sarungu described how the opportunities available in the tourism sector which has contributed around US$9 billion in foreign exchange in 2012 and this is expected to cross US$10 billion in 2013. It is already the fourth largest sector among goods and services. In 2012, Indonesia received more than eight million visitors who stayed an average of 7.7 nights and spent an average of US$1,133,81. The potential is so great that he said it is predicted that tourism in Indonesia is on its way to replace the Energy Sector in terms of GDP contribution.

This has already manifested itself in huge aircraft orders by Indonesian airlines, busy internal air routes and presently there is an average of one hotel being launched every week in Indonesia. As to where the opportunities lie, Mr Sarungu said that apart from investments in new Hotels and Restaurants, potential investors should look into developing island tourism as there are hundred of potential resorts that not only can cater to international visitors but also a 235 million-strong domestic market population.

Politics & Business

Business Matching Networking Sessions

(Aug to Nov 2014)

Each BISA Business Forum is paired with a business matching networking session tied to a particular industry.
27 Aug: Supply Chain & Forwarder
24 Sep: Banking
29 Oct: Education
26 Nov: Spa, Health, Beauty & Organic Products

The BISA Business Forum fully realise the impact of politics on businesses and this was covered in April’s session, titled The Political Situation in Indonesia and the Impact Towards Business. The Forum was fortunate to receive insights and on the topic ‘Political Situations in Indonesia’ delivered by Mr Mirza Nurhidayat, Minister Councellor from the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore. Another guest speaker, the Embassy’s Trade Attache, Mr Natan Kambuno, spoke on ‘Trade Business in Indonesia.’ Another topic that day that also drew great interest was the ‘Business Situation Prediction in Indonesia after Election’ given by Ms Agustin Sintawati from Fortune PR.