by Kirsten Eldridge, Jolkona Volunteer
Our 16 social entrepreneurs in the Jolkona Catalyst program, a three-week mentor driven accelerator for founders from developing countries, will come from Bangladesh and Indonesia to Seattle next month. This three-week intensive program will allow them to further hone their business plans, learn how to tell their story, and gain new insights. We can’t wait to welcome them to our offices on October 25th!
Our next feature is Timotius Wong, CEO of Synergy Academy. Since 2013, Synergy Entrepreneur Academy has inspired thousands of Indonesian youths. Through the education and motivation provided in their overnight boot-camps, youths gain a better understanding of what it takes to get started.
You can also register for our Jolkona Catalyst Showcase on November 11th in the beautiful, new Galvanize co-working space in historic Pioneer Square. Click here to RSVP!
Outside of this project and work, what else do you do for fun in your home country? What other passions do you have?
I’m a property developer and a pathfinder. I find it fun as a property developer because we are not just building houses, but homes; we are not just developing buildings but developing masterpieces. While as the pathfinder, I enjoy opening ways for people in many aspects of life: I enjoy helping local businesses to go international, helping students or professionals to start up a business, helping people to find their life purpose.
I have also been invited to deliver many seminars about entrepreneurship, motivation, personal development, public speaking, personal finance, marketing strategy, etc. Beside business and philosophy, my other passions are in music and culinary arts.
What inspired you to start this venture?
My family happened to face a financial crisis while I was still in my second year in university. However, thank God that He used entrepreneurship to save my life so that I could still survive and even finished my education through a master degree. I opened a restaurant of my own by that time.
When I ran into several friends that share the similar experience with me, we started to ponder: “What if there are somebody out there that might be facing the same struggle like us? What if their parents’ business went bankrupt? What if their parents happened to get a sudden deadly accident? What if their parents got fired? What if they come from a poor family? Would they still be able to survive? Or what if their parents might still be fine, but they just want to anticipate in case of something bad occurs?” They need entrepreneurship.
But how could they become one (an entrepreneur) if they don’t understand entrepreneurship? How could they understand about it if they have never learned about it? How could they be able to learn if there is no one to teach them, show them, guide them, train them, and educate them?
To really help someone to start up a business, it requires an intense practical learning. Two hours or one day business seminar is never enough. That’s why we started our first project by organizing Start Up Business Camp, 5 days and nights of intensive training and workshops to start up your own business. And even after the camp is over, we are still providing life-time coaching to maintain their business and help it grow.
What is one obstacle you have faced in running your social business? How did you overcome this obstacle?
When we promoted our very first Business Camp, we were still short of reputation. But then we solved it by having a partnership with a well-known business school in Indonesia to leverage their reputation, and we provide a 100% money back guarantee to our participants in order to overcome their doubts.
What are you looking forward to when you come to the United States for the Jolkona Catalyst program?
Network and partners. Synergy Entrepreneur Academy is just one of my social enterprises, I still have a Real Estate Developer Enterprise which one of its focus is also on providing homes for low class economic citizens, It is in accordance with the one-million-houses movement that promoted by our government where these citizens would only need to pay 1% for the Down Payment and they can have their own house, while government would cover the rest by paying the 99% to us, the developer. It is very profitable yet contributes a very huge impact in decreasing the rate of homeless people in Indonesia.
In helping local businesses to go international, I am also about to start preparing an online platform to promote Indonesian products to the world. Indonesia is very rich of natural resources: from the sea, forests, mines, to the agriculture, art, etc. However our farmers, fishermen, etc. still could be considered poor because they don’t have the direct access to the market, the international market. To put it in simple, it’s going to be like alibaba.com of Indonesia. Our focus is not just on manufactured products that could be produced in China, our focus in on resources that could only be produced by the nature in Indonesia.
To expand, execute, grow, and scale up my enterprises I will need expertise, advisors, partners, investors, supporters, and visionaries. I hope there could be some mutual benefit relations in the future, because I hold on this principle: “I know that some of you might have a clear conscience and sincerely want to help the social enterprises in developing countries, that profit might not be your top priority while social impact is the one. But I do think that if some reckless enterprises could generate a huge profit from their business, don’t people like you who care so much about humanity and the environment deserve an even better benefit and profit than them? The triple bottom line of social entrepreneurship would always be people, planet, and profit.”