Care about those who need our help

Based on 2010 World Bank statistics on Indonesia, poverty, hunger, lack of education and medical care continue to stalk Indonesia despite the rapid economic growth over the past few years. By most estimates, more than 50 percent of the country’s 260 million people still live on an average of $2 or less a day and more than 23 percent live on $1.25 a day or less. Although there has been a steady annual improvement in these statistics for the preceding 4 years, this improvement has stifled considerably and it is estimated that more than 43% of the population now live on $2 or less.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government has made fighting poverty one of its top priorities, but with mixed results. Eliminating hunger should in fact be the top priority for the government as food security is the most basic of human needs.

Understanding the causes of hunger is critical if the government is to fight this scar on the nation’s face head-on. Food supply is not the issue as there is enough food to feed everyone. Poverty, in most cases, is the root cause of hunger and, as a result, over the past five years the country has continued to experience a steady decline in the nutritional status of children less than five years of age.

It is unacceptable in this day and age that 28 percent of children in the country are underweight, with 44 percent facing stunted growth.

Without a long-term solution, the country will continue to face a sharp deficit in the quality of its human capital, as today’s children will not receive enough nutrition to develop into tomorrow’s productive workforce. To tackle this problem, the solution must therefore lie in providing greater empowerment and more economic opportunities for the people, in particular the very poor.

The government has initiated some programs, such as direct cash transfers, as a short-term solution, but clearly poverty numbers have not come down.

The longer-term solution must be for the government to unshackle the private sector so that entrepreneurs can create better paying jobs. If parents have steady jobs, they can afford to feed their children and themselves. The private sector must become the economic locomotive, as the government does not have the capacity to create enough well paying jobs on its own.

This is an urgent problem, as reflected in a new study released by the Food and Agricultural Organization and the United Nations World Food Program that lists Indonesia as one of seven countries in the world with the most underfed citizens. The study notes that more than 1 billion people across the globe face severe hunger. It adds that with a child dying every six seconds because of hunger-related problems, hunger remains the world’s largest tragedy and scandal.

Wiping out hunger will require serious effort and farsighted policies on the part of governments. But most of all it will require a political will to change the way the problem is addressed. Fighting hunger and poverty is an immediate priority as it will have dire long-term consequences on the nation, let alone on the dignity of the individual.

Source: The Jakarta Globe

Why Start In Bali

In late 2010, Alan Morgan and Gary Seah, both from Melbourne Australia, retired from full time work to live in Bali Indonesia after having had a long career running various small to medium enterprises, with a focus on start-ups, buying underperforming businesses and turning them around and in the case of Alan, a successful career in Mergers and Acquisitions.

Within months of living in the island paradise of Bali, it was identified that, although on the surface the country appeared to be socially and economically prosperous, and that the populace were thriving in a rich hub of tourism, manufacturing and retail, the country suffers from overwhelming poverty, lack of education, non-existent resources and government support such a social services, pensions, unemployment, medical care and virtually no practical opportunities for the average person to lift themselves out of this impoverished existence.

Having spent months understanding the local culture, economy and language, it was abundantly clear that Indonesians were intuitively resourceful and intelligent, astoundingly creative and surprisingly proactive. They had to be. No job meant no food, shelter, medical care, lifestyle etc.

After further investigation and research, it was obvious that the economic prosperity in Bali resided within a select group. In large, this group consists of a small percentage of Balinese with higher education and wealth from either smaller enterprises or land sales, wealthy Indonesians (of which the majority are Indonesian Chinese) from Jakarta, Surabaya and Jogjakarta, being the three biggest cities in Indonesia, and the many foreigners whom have moved to Bali to establish businesses. The latter being more than 400,000 people in Bali alone. (Almost 10% of the population of Bali).

The high standard of education and general business knowledge of the abovementioned group, along with the financial resources that come along with them, has resulted in the vast majority of the successful enterprises in Bali being owned by a select small percentage of the population. And it’s growing by the day at an alarming rate.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

On the surface, Bali is a popular holiday destination with a thriving tourism industry. In reality, tourism does not appear to be the main economic driver. Bali actually seems to be the showroom for Indonesia’s immense manufacturing capabilities. Principally operating and manufacturing in Java, where labour, cost of goods and real estate are significantly cheaper. And where poverty is significantly more of an issue.

What was obvious in the first 6 months of living in Bali is that Indonesia is a land of golden opportunities. Somewhat similar to Australia in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s in that there are a myriad of business opportunities not yet developed and what is there, is somewhat rudimentary. Yet few have the resources and/or education to capitalise on the vast array of opportunities. And neither the government, nor the majority of the affluent population provide any assistance as they themselves, including much of the government officials, police and military are operating businesses and/or have investments that benefit from the exclusive ground they’re able to hold. An uneducated and poorer populace is more manageable and is certainly a more cost effective workforce.

After identifying where the challenges are, and therein the opportunities, Alan Morgan embarked on a campaign to provide education on personal money management and support to individuals who had a Dream, were willing to Learn and demonstrated the ability and determination to Do what is necessary to become a success. Surprisingly, Indonesia is awash with people that fit this bill.