Jakarta, Aug 18 2020 - Youth entrepreneurs in Indonesia are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic which has severely impacted the country’s economy, but many have turned the unprecedented challenge into opportunity to create more jobs and jumpstart the sluggish economy, a group of noted youth entrepreneurs said on Tuesday during UNDP’s monthly SDG Talks.


Titled, “Marking International Youth Day; Business, SDG and the Youth amid the Pandemic” the online event brought together young entrepreneurs, private companies, start-ups and development partners. The event had an attendance of more than 300 people throughout Indonesia.


The event featured snippets from a recent survey on youth entrepreneurship called Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Youth Entrepreneurs in Indonesia. UNDP Indonesia, through its Youth Co: Lab program conducted the survey with U-reports (facilitated by UNICEF). Co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation in 2017, Youth Co: Lab aims to establish a common agenda in the Asia Pacific region to empower and invest in youth on SDGs through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship mainly involving SMEs. This program has been implemented in 25 countries and regions throughout the Asia Pacific, by conducting various activities such as today's activities, regional conferences and social innovation competition which reached more than 75,000 participants. This initiative has benefited more than 7,100 young social entrepreneurs and helped launch or enhance nearly 650 social entrepreneurs. The program has also successfully formed partnerships with more than 180 key players in this ecosystem.


“The spirit of youth entrepreneurship in Indonesia is flourishing. There is an overwhelming eagerness by young people in Indonesia to create their own business and contribute to the national economy. While COVID-19 has severely impacted young entrepreneurs, they can bounce back and will do so more quickly with strong targeted support to help them grow in times of crisis like now. As part of its support to national development and COVID-19 recovery, UNDP Indonesia is helping youth develop their entrepreneurial skills, and also supports the Government in designing policies that will help youth thrive,” said UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative Christophe Bahuet.


In his opening remarks, Citi Indonesia CEO Batara Sianturi said young people in Indonesia hold the key to pushing the country out of the crisis through entrepreneurship.

"Currently, the world is faced with quite a big challenge, where COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. Despite this, there are number of opportunities and innovative creativities that are being presented by youths, to provide positive impacts for society. Through today’s SDG Talks, we hope that there will be forum of discussions between stakeholders, in order to find creative ideas and solutions that will support Indonesia's youths so that they can continue to innovate and contribute to the nation's economy in the midst of challenging times, "explained Batara.


The talks featured speakers such as Ms. Elisa Suteja, Co-Founder Fore Coffee, Mr. Jim Oklahoma, Chief Business Development Officer iGrow Ms. Ade N. Safrina Nasution, Co-Founder dorm.id and Berdayakrui and Ms. Lady Diandra, UNDP Indonesia Innovative Financing Lab Youth Co:Lab Representative and Mr. Drs. Imam Gunawan, M.AP. Assistant for Deputy on Entrepreneurship from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.


“The pandemic has dramatically altered the way we work and live, nonetheless rather than letting the situation run its course, I have noticed that many of us have decided to reset and take action— if not bolder then certainly more strategic— to the shift in demand,” said Ms. Ade N Safrina Nasution. “The money and opportunities are still here but the priorities have changed, so we have to readjust our business model.”


The survey targeted youth from 16 - 30 years old. There were 756 responses to the survey, the key results of which were:


1. 79% of youth entrepreneurs reported that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their business. Of these, 21% reported that their businesses have completely stopped operations due to the coronavirus.

2. 58% of youth entrepreneurs reported a decrease in their financial turnover -- up to 81%, while 36% have reported a decrease in financial turnover up to 40%. 6% of youth entrepreneurs claim that they see an increase or no impact at all on their financial turnover.

3. In response to the pandemic, 84% of youth entrepreneurs reported that they have started developing a support system via various youth entrepreneurship networks.

The pandemic has changed people's lifestyles. FORE Coffee co-founder Elisa Suteja said that before the pandemic, many consumers drank Fore coffee in cafes. However, everything changed during the pandemic when a large-scale social distancing was implemented.


"Consumers prefer to order coffee online. Therefore, in the future, we will start changing the strategy by focusing on serving online sales and closing several offline cafes,” said Elisa.

The agricultural sector is one of the industries that is not too hard hit. This was admitted by Chief Business Development Officer of iGrow, Jim Oklahoma. According to him, loans disbursed to farmers only fell in March. After that, the loan disbursement actually increased.

"When compared to last year's loan amount which reached IDR 72 billion, this year it is much higher. As of August, it had reached more than IDR 60 billion. Most likely, this year's loan disbursement to farmers is greater than last year,” explained Jim.


Assistant Deputy for Entrepreneurship from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Imam Gunawan, said that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had asked young entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic to report to the nearest agencies, starting at the village level.

"Based on issues identified, we will prepare a suitable assistance scheme. So, we encourage young entrepreneurs to be more active in reporting those issues," explained Imam.


SDG Talks is UNDP’s flagship event on SDGs awareness among the youth in Indonesia. Entering its second year, the monthly discussion event has attracted the Who’s Who in the development sector, as well as the film and music industry. Past speakers have included actor and UNDP’s SDG Mover, Chelsea Islan, actor and UNDP’s SDGs Mover Reza Rahadian and travel writer Trinity among others.



UNDP Indonesia Head of Communication Unit, Tomi Soetjipto, suryo.tomi@undp.org

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Indonesia 
Go to UNDP Global