Poverty in Indonesia is pretty bad.

I’ve been living in Indonesia for the past seven years now and have spent most of my time living in Surabaya. Throughout my time here I have grown to love the culture, people, and food among many other fantastic things. I’ve also realized that Indonesians are wonderful people just like anyone else in the world. They are smart people and have a love for their country which I have never seen before anywhere else. But unfortunately, the poverty in Indonesia is pretty bad.

People here, in general, are tired of living with a corrupt government which is one of the causes for the poverty. I’ve met Indonesians in person and online who have been putting their hearts and souls into projects and businesses to help the Indonesian economy and citizens grow. People like Inez Natalia from the Intersection Project or YouthIdeal are Indonesian individuals and organizations which are putting in full efforts to improve their country in innovative and inspiring ways. For the most part, the people here are happy no matter how rich or poor they are. However, I’ve been asking myself, ‘What’s the solution to poverty in Indonesia?’. How can we solve this huge issue?


Why should I write a post about poverty in Indonesia?

I care deeply, not just about Indonesia, but also about the whole world’s well being. Since I live in Indonesia currently it makes the most sense to do all I can to help Indonesia grow while I’m based here. Of course, this post is not all about me and my mission, it’s also about you too. One man can do a lot, but with help from others, with a following right along with him, the process of making a huge difference is much easier.


So the reason I’m writing this post is to start a movement. I want to make a dent out of the poverty in Indonesia then move on from there. With your help, I believe we can do this together. No matter how big poverty seems it is a problem we can chip away at together. Just like any other problem in life, if we don’t do anything about it, it will not be solved.


Related Post: Inez Natalia’s Turn Right


What is this post about exactly?

I’m not going to lie. My ideas may seem simple. Some of my conclusions on how the Indonesian government and business owners run their country may be harsh but it’s the truth. These are the people and organizations holding this country back. Sometimes big problems are solved by blunt honesty and simple solutions.


So let me put this straight. There is a gap between the people who are actually carrying this country forward and the people who are holding it back. The gap is huge. Most of the ones pushing the country forward are young or middle-aged entrepreneurs. And then there are the people stuck in the middle or bottom who have very little power to change anything.


I’ve only seen a few people and organizations who are already trying their best to make a difference to the poverty in Indonesia. This is a good sign to see that some people care and I hope more people will continue to change Indonesia for the better.


In this post, I’ll first show you some evidence behind the studies I’ve been doing about the government, extremely wealthy individuals, and companies who are holding Indonesia back and making the poverty in Indonesia worse.


Second, I’ll write about the people who are changing Indonesia for the better through innovative ways.


Last, I’ll write about the best solution I personally can come up with which will not only work in Indonesia but all around the developing and modern world. My solution is not an instantaneous one and is not the only one either. Other improvements need to happen in addition to my own before any dents in poverty can take effect.


One major problem holding back the solution to poverty in Indonesia is the wealthiest of all the wealthy.

poverty in indonesia corruption

Seeing that Indonesia has a huge potential for growth domestically and internationally I would hope that more wealthy people here start using their abilities to increase opportunities for employees’ development, however, that’s happening too slowly. The economy is raising like crazy, but personal and employee development is slow.


If you don’t know much about this country, the distance between the rich and the poor is huge. The gap is unbelievably huge. According to Aljazeera.com, Indonesia is unfortunately ranked as the sixth worst country for inequality when it comes to wealth. If that doesn’t make you go ‘wow’ then take a look at this; the four richest Indonesians make more than the poorest 100 million Indonesians put together.


Just look at what these extremely rich people are making their money off of!

#1 TobaccoR. Budi & Michael Hartono – Net Worth: $32.3 B

#2 Palm OilTjipta Widjaja & family – Net Worth: $9.1 B

#3 TobaccoSusilo Wonowidjojo & family – Net Worth: $8.8 B

#4 IndoFood & Banking – Anthoni Salim & family

#5 PlasticsSri Prakash Lohia


Even the best of those (#4) is still not even that good! And what kind of charities or organizations are these people even doing to make their country a better place to live? Correct me if I’m wrong, but only three of the five billionaires above are involved in any sort of charitable acts. You could probably guess it’s none of the tobacco tycoons!


The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer but not doing anything about it.

So, can we even find the solution to poverty in Indonesia? As you can see by Forbes list of Indonesia’s 50 Richest List that most of these rich people are involved in industrial age businesses. The youngest one out of all of them is 41 years old. These guys are making billions while approximately 40% of the total population is only making $58 per month.


I cannot judge these individuals as I don’t know them personally. What I can say though is they are probably only thinking about themselves and their families. It doesn’t seem like they are investing in companies like an Indonesian Apple, Facebook or Google and I think they should. I don’t see any beneficial technology companies or educational companies on their top 50 list.


If the richest 50 people in Indonesia are not willing to invest in their own country’s growth in businesses which will educate the people in Indonesia then sadly to say, I don’t think we can rely on the older generation to come up with a solution to poverty in Indonesia. 


What has the Indonesian government done to help find a solution to poverty in Indonesia?

Generally, I think the Indonesian government is going through the motions of seeming like they’re helping their nation to grow beyond the industrial age by distributing US$4.2 billion to what they call the village funds and social assistance programs.


First, what does the village fund program do? What’s the money used for and who is in control of the money? Well, the village heads are the one who are in control of the money. Once it gets sent to each village we’ve got no clue what they will use it for. Technically there are official procedures on what the village heads should do with the money but since the village heads hold so much influence and laws are easily bent or broken here, there’s no guarantee on if the money will be used for a beneficial cause.


According to my research, and what president Jokowi says most of the village funds go to education. But we really don’t have any idea how effective that will be. Obviously, there are issues with education systems around the world. Education systems have been around for hundreds or thousands of years but we still can’t get it right.


Poor education is at the heart of poverty. Click To Tweet


Unless strict enforcement is used to guide how this USD$4.2 billion is used in the most effective way it will not have its expected impact on poverty in Indonesia.


Now it’s up to the Millenials and Generation Z to take charge.

poverty in indonesia milinials

%42 of the Indonesian population is 24 years old or younger. That is a HUGE percentage of the population and soon many of those youngsters will be heading out into the working world. Most will probably be working for someone else. But a very small percentage will bring this nation up. I believe it because it’s already happening.


The youth of Indonesia with fortunate upbringings have got a huge potential! I believe in these young (under 24) individuals to bring their country out of the industrial age and into the 21st century. The Forbes list of Indonesia’s 50 Richest List that I mentioned above practically has no tech companies. Tech companies bring innovation, wealth, and jobs to the people of the country. Look at what America’s Apple has done for its people. The benefits don’t end there! Just look for yourself when you search in Google: ‘What has Apple done for America?’.


Indonesia needs more people to be innovative in the modern world in order to be modern themselves. By starting tech startups it surely creates jobs, but not only that. It inspires the whole nation to achieve more in more than one way. People become better people through creation. Indonesia needs more tech innovators like the ones I’ll mention below so that more youths can be inspired to improve their own country and not just move away to work at Apple in America.


This list and investments are based on Tech In Asia article which includes 17 other Indonesian tech companies which are changing the way business works in Indonesia.

1. William Tanuwijaya – CEO of Tokopedia – Investors invested USD$1.1 B

Tokopedia is a way for buyers and sellers to easily sell and buy from each other.

2. Nadiem Makarim – CEO of Go-Jek – Investors invested USD$585 M.

Nadiem Indonesianized the idea of Uber with motorbikes which are one of the main types of personal transportation in Indonesia. But Go-Jek is more than just another Uber. There are features such as Go-Food and Go-Mart where you get your goods taken and brought directly to your house.

3. Ferry Unardi – CEO of Traveloka – Investors invested USD$500 M.

Taveloka is the place to buy your tickets and book your hotels online.


These guys above practically started from nothing. They had an idea for a problem they could solve and made a business out of it. With their hard work and perseverance, they did what no other Indonesian had ever done before. That’s what startups are all about. Check out my review of BOLD if you want to learn more about the topic of solving problems by creating businesses.


There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’re Indonesian and reading this that you want to solve the problem of poverty in Indonesia. You could be the solution to the problem. All you have to do is be innovative enough to solve it. But don’t do it alone. Create teams and communities to follow you just like these three amazing entrepreneurs I mentioned above. They are your inspiration!


If you’ve got no idea where to start or don’t have much capital there’s still hope for you. Just like everyone in this world you must start somewhere.


To Solve Poverty in Indonesia, Start With Reading Self-Development Books.

poverty in indonesia self-development books

The solution to poverty in Indonesia is reading (self-development) books. To be honest, no one is going to help you. Your parents won’t and definitely not the government. Only YOU can improve yourself. As you can see,  the richest people in Indonesia are just hurting and holding Indonesia back from true prosperous growth and the government has no idea where to put its money. The hope lies with the youth of Indonesia and in my opinion, the only way for anyone to grow is by reading (self-development) books and taking action.


We all need to start a reading movement. And I’m not talking about reading just fictional books. I’m talking about each of us picking up a nonfiction book which will give you value. Not many people read which is sad. Imagine if more people did read meaningful books which teach you valuable skills in whichever field you want to improve on. The world truly would be a smarter, wealthier, and more understanding place if more people read.


How will reading books prevent poverty in Indonesia from becoming worse?

Innovation. By reading the right books at the right time you will be able to create businesses, products, communities, programs, and things you wouldn’t have ever been able to imagine before you picked up your first book. I encourage you to explore books. If you have no idea what to read, just pick one with a good review. If you liked it then read another book like it. Go on a journey with your reading.


However, reading is not the only thing that needs to happen. Like I said in the intro to this post, my solution is only a small aspect of the whole solution. You have to start somewhere though and I believe by starting with people who already know how to read, let’s say, for example, a ten-year-old that they can learn more from reading a self-development book than from a class at school. If they make it a habit to read self-development books at that age we’re going to have a huge young generation of people who actually care about growth not just for themselves but also for the whole world.


When more people start reading it will prevent poverty in Indonesia because these readers will be innovating and helping other people to grow with them after they apply what they’ve learned. Most people I’ve met who read self-development books encourage others to read too. That’s why I say ‘join me in this movement’ to get the world reading more and improving their own lives.


I challenge you to solve the problem of poverty in Indonesia by picking up a self-development book and applying what you learn. Let’s show the older generation we know how to make the world a better place.

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