Trip Summary: Jakarta

So, Jakarta…

It’s not known for it’s beauty. It IS known for it’s traffic. We learned why during our 4 day stay in the capital city of Indonesia.


The view from our hotel room of downtown Jakarta.

Our first day in Jakarta showed us the joys of big city traffic. It was horrible, like REALLY horrible. We basically went a half mile in 45 minutes, and that was just to get to a point where we could turn around in a median and reverse direction – aaaagh! So, it was only fitting that one of our first meetings was with the Lorena Group, a transportation company trying to fill the need for mass transit in the capital city and throughout the country of Indonesia.

Lorena buses

Lorena Bus Fleet

Lorena Karina is THE bus group in Jakarta. They are a private company started in 1971 with 1 bus and have been steadily growing ever since. Based on the need Jakarta, and all of Indonesia, has for mass transit, the Lorena Group is one of the most important entities in the entire country. Congested traffic stops everything, and there is no real mass transit of any other kind, no subway or anything like that, so buses enable less cars (and scooters!) to clog up the roadways.

We had a wonderful lunch with the president, Mr. Soerbakti, his daughter Eka Lorena (who the company is named after, and who basically made our stay in Jakarta fun and inspiring through her introductions and explanations), Eka’s brother Ryanta who is a managing director and a member of Parliament, and a group from Mercedes who manufacture the buses.

Lorena Group

Lorena Group and Mercedes

Eka is not only an influential leader of Lorena Group and of forward thinking momentum in transportation in general, she is also an Eisenhower Fellow, which is how Aly met her, and how we ended up going to Indonesia in the first place for Aly’s Fellowship. Thanks Eka!!!!!!

Eka showing off the first bus of Lorena Karina.

Eka showing off the first bus of Lorena Karina.

Eka also secured Aly a TV spot for a 1 hour show on a Singapore Business Channel called Economic Buzz. Aly talked about the Creative Economy and it’s role in business development. It was LIVE – woohoo – and Aly did a great job. I was invited to sit in the room out of camera range, but I elected to sit in the other room and watch from monitors instead. I was petrified that I would cough or something and show up in the show unintentionally…

MNC Singapore, Aly Khalifa

MNC Singapore, Aly Khalifa

MNC Singapore, Aly Khalifa

MNC Singapore, Aly Khalifa on the monitors!

We arrived in Jakarta a few days before Ramadan and left the day Ramadan started.Jakarta felt diverse and cosmopolitan. The Mosque next door to our hotel was just one of many calls to prayer we heard in this primarily Islamic country. They were an audible reminder that Jakarta is close to 80% Muslim. The overall feeling in the city was much more subtle and business-secular than I expected, however. It was a sharp contrast to the very visible Hindu religion most of Bali practiced. It was very interesting and inspiring to go from a Hindu-centric Bali, to Muslim Jakarta, with a brief stop at a Buddhist temple in Yogyakarta. In each location, religion was a part of the culture, but no religion, whether the majority or minority, ever felt exclusive or threatening to any of the others (at least not to us outside visitors). Each felt integrated into life in an every day way.

We left Jakarta for Singapore feeling inspired and at ease with the city, and assume we shall meet again in the future.

Trip Summary: the disclaimer post

Here I am, In San Francisco, awaiting a transfer flight. The last post I wrote was about Yogyakarta, but I was log gone from that location when I wrote the post. And since then, we have been to Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore again. So I’m gonna do some fast-track posts to try and get the broad strokes of the trip down…may go back in later and fill in details, or I may not.

Had planned on blogging in real time but a series of problems presented themselves. First of all, my WordPress app kept bugging out, which meant I had to go to the “real” computer to blog. I also had to have a good connection, which was often difficult. And even with a good connection, I needed to reduce the size of my photos if I used the good camera, because uploading the bigger pics to the blog took a stupid amount of time or timed out all together (even though the size was only like 2 meg and wordpress then compressed down further).

And that’s not to mention the fact that it sometimes takes time to actually change an experience into a coherent set of words…

Anyway, the next few posts will be more about the pics than the story. Here goes…

“New Craft” as a Social Enterprise

Singgih Kartono is a designer in Indonesia who has garnered attention and awards around the world for his brand “Magno” and the wooden radios that are its centerpiece.

Magno Radios

The Magno product line has depth and uniqueness, distributors clamoring to carry it and consumer demand growth.  But these typical indicators of business success are not what drives Singgih. Growth of Magno is not the goal, it’s the tool to a bigger goal, a healthy and thriving community.

Singgih describes his manufacturing process as New Craft. “New Craft uses traditional craftsmanship as its main means of production and uses modern management techniques in organizing its activities.”

He is able to hire members of the community to work on the radios with relatively low training. In fact, most of the training he does for his employees are about leadership, responsibility, accountability and both personal and community empowerment. He does this in many ways, including starting each day with the “morning talk,” where the whole group gets together to understand the day’s plan. They have one day each week where a different employee leads them in exercise. The exercise leader is also encouraged to speak to the group about ideas or inspirations they have.

In addition to making radios, the employees cultivate a tree nursery that enables Magno to plant a tree equivalent to every tree they take. There is also farm land, which Singgih bought at financial risk to himself to save the land from being developed, that grows food and hopefully catfish for the factory. He has a host of coffee trees he is growing in the tree nursery as well.

Singgih farmland

Coffee Trees

Coffee Trees

And all of this, too, is for a greater plan. It’s not really simply to feed the factory. His agricultural goal is to help the community realize the power and beauty of agriculture, and how agriculture and craft can be together in one space to create a sustainable life.

And just as I think I have grasped the totality of Singgih’s vision, as we come back to the factory from our tour of the farmland, he says, “Really, I want to move the factory away from this center. It would be much better if this building were a school for the children.”

Wow. How many business owners see their path to success as displacing their factory so a school could replace it?

See Aly’s story for a much more detailed account of this story and a lot of pics.