“I graduated from medical college, but my passion is business,” said Yuliana. She once managed her early business while attending college, not one but two: selling custom-made dolls and running a small beauty parlor. Several years earlier she was operating a SME business but in a bit of good fortune her business found an international clientele. At present, Yuliana is a CEO for several companies, founder of a social-awarenes foundation, and is directing a new enterprise, Indonesia Display.
Indonesia Display, Yuliana believes, is projected to be a crucial institution in bridging a path between domestic entrepreneurs, especially SME’s, and international demand. Her job is quite intricate: how to match local products with international industry, how to ensure local products fit the foreign demand, and how to persuade or make clients believe in Indonesian products.
To put it simply, Indonesia Display is a place or institution that manages export programs for business opportunities, especially SME’s, and arranges particular business matching with international companies. Yuliana noticed many Indonesian companies having difficulties with international channels. Thus, Indonesia Display can handle these difficulties regarding export and distribution issues.
“We have primarily launched in Switzerland, and plan to open branch in the USA by next year and in Colombia soon afterwards. Though newly opened, the response has been good, from both sides. Due to high demand, we are urgently preparing for the USA,” she explained.
Though most of the participants are from agriculture and garment businesses, she specifically supports products with strong images of Indonesia, such as spices and speciality food,
batik products and other ethnic fabrics. With Indonesia Display, Yuliana also encourages all entrepreneurs to minimize the selling of raw products and to begin selling ready-to-use or manufactured products for better profit. “In Switzerland, there are plenty of spice products in supermarkets, but none or little are from Indonesia, mostly from Thailand. For me, that’s a business opportunity.”
She admitted that the idea is based on experience while introducing and marketing one of her cosmetic products in European countries. During that period, she learned many lessons and found opportunities in establishing a business in Europe. “To be honest, I started my business as a SME, then I had contracts from a couple of major US companies. I learned the process. Based on what I experienced, the idea came up,”.
Developing Poor Communities
As the founder of Yayasan Citra Kasih Abadi, a social-awareness foundation, Yuliana is obliged to focus on economic development in isolated-communities. For several years, she has gone constantly back-and-forth to West Seram Island. Shockingly, the area is acclaimed as one of the poorest areas in the province; however it has a pristine, beautiful, and breath-taking panorama. “I’ve been in Raja Ampat. But this place is even more stunning, especially the coastal side. I fell in love with it at first sight. It could be one of Indonesia’s future tourism attractions” she explained.
Yuliana’s idea is preparing these communities for future prospects, developing the economy through tourism features heavily. She then invites several people, with the same social-awareness interests, and starts the plan. They open regular English classes and basic entrepreneurship lessons, as well a hygiene education program, an important thing in tourism. Actually, she entered West Seram four years ago, but has become more intensive as time has passed. “I also support them by reconstructing houses into standard, neat guesthouses for tourists, and build rest rooms. I am continually impressing on them that cleanliness is crucial. We have encouraged them to become more. I tell you, they are now developed,” she clarified.
In a year, they are expected to become independent entrepreneurs that support local tourism. Nevertheless, she further explains, it would be difficult to achieve without any Government involvement, especially for infrastructure development. For that, she continuously makes way to related-authorities. “I contacted and proposed the plan to the Regent, the Governor, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Development of Disadvantaged Regions. They responded well, and promised to set it into their agenda. We’ll see.”
Recently, Yuliana has also set an education program, in collaboration with BKKBN, in Kampung KB Mertasinga, Cirebon, a coastal village populated from the poor fishing community. Providing a proper education in creative selling and helping to create added value in seafood commodities, and opening a permanent, communal seafood market.
Yuliana understands what learning the know-how from the right person can result in. When studying dermatology in her fifth semester of college, she followed the instructions for making skin-cream and formulating medicine from a lecturer, then tested it with her beauty parlor customers. Marvelously it worked. Now she has her own skin-clinic branches. Moreover, She is also frequently requested for coaching motivational lessons, mostly for women-orientated entrepreneur classes and entrepreneurship training for SME’s.
So what is the obstacle in running a SME? “Commonly, like I did, they don’t particularly know how o conduct business properly. They have no knowledge of it. Relying only instinct to do business has often failed them. For me, based on my experience, budgeting is crucial for managing and controlling a business. That’s why I coach them in Business Planning and Budgeting,” she concluded.
Eventually, she hopes all the entrepreneurs will constantly encourage SME’s towards established industries, mutually connected with their international markets and demands.