“Raise the Awareness of Local SMEs and Products Existence”We as the young Indonesians should not miss our opportunity to be able to leverage APEC moment, in order to raise Indonesia’s competitiveness within the Asia-Pacific region or even possibly in the global market, since Indonesia is the host country for the 2013’s APEC Summit in Bali.
After following numbers of APEC or ABAC related news in the media for the past months, there are some discussions which have caught my thinking sense to have an idea of making them as a stepping stone for Indonesia to maturing its economy in the globalized world. I would not provide any data or numbers in my writing, it is all about my own daily observation and preferences which are basically similar to the others, I believe.
How SMEs ‘Take Over’ Indonesia?
The discussable topic which is also the most-talked about theme at APEC-related events is Small and Medium Enterprises or abbreviated as SMEs. In Indonesia itself we know it as Usaha Kecil dan Menengah or UKM/UMKM. From the information that I have obtained, I come to know that APEC really stretches on this sector with a thinking that SMEs are one of the machines that tend to empower the national economy. Indonesia with a mixed cultural society and the willingness of its people to live a decent life economically has successfully aroused the people’s desire to create their own kind of businesses. This makes us as one of the countries with more and more mushroomed SMEs. It easily can be seen that Indonesia is quite capable to manufacture or produce its own local products.
As we walk down the streets in Jakarta or even the other parts of Indonesia, we get the chance to explore more interesting ‘in-house’ products. Matters of fact, food and beverages as well as fashion and handicrafts are the products those held most of the markets and the most dominating types of SMEs that people in Indonesia are familiar with and able to warmly welcome as well as willing to spend for these products.
We can take Bandung as an example on its fashion-related SMEs. I am certain that we all know that Bandung is known as the Paris of Indonesia, that is quite familiar with the name of ‘Paris Van Java’. We can get bundles of fashion items with reasonable prices, wearable and catchy. Most of the manufacturers are the young entrepreneurs who are running small factories or convections and grow their passion through fashion businesses.
If Bandung can be taken as the examples for fashion SMEs, Medan could become one of the instances as the place with most growing SMEs specializing in culinary. Cuisines like snacks, pickles, juice, cakes, traditional foods, ice cream and others will easily can be spotted in the capital of North Sumatra. And how about handicrafts? Everyone knows that Bali is the one who holds the trophy for this. Aside from Bandung, Medan and Bali, other cities in Indonesia also have their own signature products, all manufactured by SMEs.
But unfortunately, Indonesian government does not put enough concern on the development of micro businesses. Even though so, we could not blame the government because they have more complicated problems to solve. That is why we as the juveniles should realize our role in order to help ‘home-made’ products to be accepted internationally.
Role of Young Generation?
In my opinion, we should improve some things those are hampering our products to be competitive amongst the flow of imported products in Indonesian market. According to my observation, our products are not getting enough trust from the customers. As a simple example is the production of a local branded bags collection. I found there are still a number of bag sellers in the market that have imported bags or even copy the same kind of luxury bags. It automatically leads the society to go over these bags. This is not only applicable for bags but also other products. With the existence of these unfair businesses, the original products of our nation could lose against the global market.
Originally, we badly need governments hands to clear the mentioned issues, but in a simplest way we could also help starting from the bottom, which is the self-consciousness. We should reload our self-confidence in wearing local products. As the youngsters, those who are likely into trends and always updated, we have to be fully responsible in bringing the awareness towards the local products. By wearing, using or consuming and promoting the local made products every single time will certainly increase the value of the products in the eyes of Indonesians.
In this case, SMEs players could engage themselves in a good practice of product creation by following some of the important marketing points, such as branding¸ packaging and quality.
Branding is in what way we want our products to interpreted by the people, in the other words is to build the products identity and characteristics. How will people define our products and how they will use it? It is the way on how we should think about it, of course with a consideration of the local market condition regarding to culture, emotion, and economic condition.
Meanwhile, packaging is everything you should do in order to keep your products as a reminder to the customers. Usually, first impression leaves a mark and here how packaging takes its part and it will take quite amount from your pocket to present the best of your products. Being a young entrepreneur, we have to be prepared with everything, pointly the budgets. Fortunately, our government is ready to help SMEs actors by providing the branchless banks and other incentives. In this way, SMEs could raise their products’ standards to an international standard.
Last but not the least is the quality. If those two points mentioned above are realized then, quality should be focused on because it will be the next thing that the people will look for in the products.
Mostly, SMEs in Indonesia fail at this stage. That is why we should produce our own products so there are no further comparison with the imported products. Bring out the products those are suitable to Indonesians.
If we are able to wrap these into one and present our products to the society, the consumers’ trust towards local products would be recycled. Based on my insight, there is no reason for our products to leave behind the other foreign products, not to be fanatic, but it is a precise thing. Because we have everything it takes to produce competent products those are able to open Indonesia’s trade blockages and compete in the Asia-Pacific region, like cultures, natural resources and the rising purchasing power of the people, whereas recently it was reported that Indonesia is going through a middle-class boom.
APEC’s Concern on SMEs: A Help
I truly believe that Indonesia also has other topics to bring to the APEC stage and discussing the regarding issues with the delegations from all over the world, but the most crucial thing during the emerging economy era, peculiarly around the Asia-Pacific region is the existence of Small and Medium Enterprises and its role as an asset for the Indonesian future economy.
Therefore, it is a good thing that APEC drives its attention towards the SMEs existence and its role as the one of the instruments to contribute to the national, regional or even in a global economy. This is a good chance for our local SMEs condition to be shared with the executive delegations as well as to be promoted at the upcoming APEC in October.
Wrap this up, young Indonesians power could be useful enough to raise Indonesian flag higher in the world’s economy and APEC is one of the platforms, moreover we are the host country for this year it makes the world to witness the true spirit of this equator country. (Shima Parawathy)