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Indonesian Startup Ecosystem and Career Opportunities for the Youths

In this blog, we are going to share our regular knowledge exchange session about “Indonesian Startup Ecosystem and Career Opportunities for the Youths ” by Mahesa Shine Panggabean.

We regularly hold knowledge exchange sessions as public for all the youths. We did the following knowledge exchange session On May 20, 2022, 6:30-7:30 PM JST time.

This blog covers the following topics :

Please check out more details in the following video or in the following blog.

1. Speaker, Mahesa Shine Panggabean Profile

Mahesa Shine is from Indonesia and a graduate student from Universitas Brawijaya (University of Brawijaya) in Malang, East Java. Majoring in English Literature, his main focus was Postcolonialism Theory on Children’s Literature. Mahesa Shine had worked as an Event Management Intern at PT. DBL Indonesia and business content writing intern at

Mahesa Shine has always been active in both academic and non-academic extracurriculars, during his University days, he joined several student body organizations and was appointed to be Chief of the Business and Archiving Department while maintaining his academic records by becoming a guest speaker in StuCELL at Gadjah Mada University.

Currently, he is working as CD IELTS Operations Executive at IDP Education Ltd.

As someone who is experienced in working for a couple of years, he will be sharing his knowledge on what it feels to be working in the Indonesian community and culture and how are the opportunities for youth and experts to be working in Indonesia.

2. Introduction to Indonesia

Indonesia is a large archipelago made of 18307 islands. Bali is one of the famous islands of Indonesia but it is only a small, tiny part of Indonesia. Ranging from east to west, there are many big islands in Indonesia, approximately 8 big islands and the rest of them are small islands. Indonesia holds the title as the largest island country in the world but it is kind of false fact because there are eighteen thousands islands in Indonesia.

Second well known fact is that Indonesia is the fourth most populous country. According to the Indonesian Population Ministry, by 2022, there are 261 million populations in Indonesia where muslims hold 90% of the population.

Speaking of Indonesian culture, there is no such thing. Actually, Indonesia is made up of at least 300 ethnics groups. When we discuss the term of Indonesian culture, it is probably most likely to be a combination between 2, 4 or 5 cultures of ethnic groups into one which reflect how Indonesians are interacting with each other and how Indonesians are proceeding with the rest of the world.

The fourth well known fact is that Indonesian celeb spirit is everything. There are 6 registered religions in Indonesia because of different types of ethnics groups and races. Indonesians celebrate each and every of the religions special days so that we could say Indonesians like to party.

3. Education in Indonesia

Although there are both private and public schools in Indonesia, most of the schools are private schools. There are not many public schools in Indonesia. In Indonesia, it is compulsory to go to school until Year 12 and the good thing is it is free till you are going to the public schools. Unlike most well developed countries, going to university is not compulsory but it is optional. The students are likely to get the job after they finish Year 12 in Indonesia. It will be a prestige or students could get a better name and future if they could get into the university.

One of the reasons that going to university is not compulsory is because if you want to enroll in a public university, a student needs to take a nationwide examination whereas the acceptance rate is pretty low. From one public university, the entrance rate is actually 10% of the number of test takers in Indonesia. Also, the private university will not be an option for most Indonesians since it is very expensive. Normally, university takes 3 to 4 years depending on which degree or study you are in. In order to graduate from university, you have to take the final tests or final writing assignments. After university, most of the students are able to apply for jobs or if they want to pursue a higher degree, they would go for master degrees.

Top Universities and Majors

One of the most popular universities in Indonesia is “University of Indonesia” , ranking 1st in Indonesia and 305th internationally. The 2nd is “University of Gadjah Mada”, the 3rd is “Bandung Institute of Technology”, the 4th is “Bogor Agricultural University” and the 5th is “Diponegoro University”. These top 5 universities have one of the lowest entrance rates across Indonesia.

One of the favorite majors are Medicine, Law, Political Science, Engineering and Computer Science, Business and Economics, Agriculture, Language and Literature. The demands to change from traditional to modern is demanding now in Indonesia therefore many engineers and many IT specialists are being recruited during these years. Agriculture majors are also becoming popular recently due to certain changes in the agriculture economy in the past five years.

4. Working Culture in Indonesia

The first thing that you will realize while you are working in Indonesia is whether big or startup, traditional or international companies, they always have the social hierarchy meaning that the one who holds the higher position will become more respectable from the lower ranked staff.

The second one is: It is always compulsory to show good manners no matter who you are talking to, younger or older, for example, you have to show greetings every time you come to office, or just simply say “hello” to your seniors during the work. The interesting part of working culture in Indonesia is reputation and first impressions are important. Most of the work forces are looking up to the company’s reputation or from their leaders and then the first impression will stick with them throughout the working day.

5. Startup Ecosystem and Youth’s Interest

Startup ecosystem in Indonesia is starting to booming in the recent ten years. One of the reasons for this is a flexible working schedule. Most of the startups are developing a more flexible working schedule which means that they do not work from 9AM to 5PM. This causes youths to get interested in terms of schedule first. Therefore, many startups companies are starting to recruit final year students because they can work from anywhere.

The second cause is they have more drive and motivation rather than the normal traditional companies. This is because most of the startups in Indonesia are built by experienced youths who got their university degrees from overseas. Therefore, the working environment is full of youthful energy and it makes them drive innovation. That is why startups are catching the interest of most Indonesian youths.

The third ecosystem is in most startups, there are promising growth potentials which means most of the startups provide self developing programs into the working schedule, or they have the specific seminars dedicated to the employees. This supporting environment catches the eyes of candidates who want to jump into startups.

The last fact to be pointed out is that startups can provide more diversity and international opportunities. Startups ecosystems are being built in more international aspects. This international opportunity attracts many youths and that is why it is becoming a prominent opportunity.

6. Working Culture Side Effect

Even though there are many benefits from the startups, there are still some side effects for the Indonesian. As the Indonesian employees are afraid to express themselves and they tend to have a hard feeling. Many employees are proven to be brilliant in their work but sometimes they cannot stand up for themselves and often do have the guts to go against their bosses.

This results in many employees being bullied not physically but in terms of working schedule. This means that as the working schedule is flexible in startups but some employers take advantage of it by making the staff work overtime and over the schedule without any credit. This is called Hustle Culture in Indonesian which has become more popular in a bad way in recent three years. However, some of the startups are trying to fix this culture.

7. Foreigner Youth’s Opportunity

Unfortunately, it is not easy to legally work for foreigners in Indonesia. This is one of the reasons that governments forbid some of the local companies and organizations from accepting foreign workforces unless it is absolutely necessary. Necessary means if they need expertise from other countries but this will be also allowed remotely. The government is not very easy with foreigners who live in Indonesia for a long term. Most career opportunities for international work force are normally provided by the international NGOs like Save the Children, UNICEF, etc. One of the ways to be able to work in Indonesia is to teach your local language in schools and universities. So it will be really difficult for foreigners to start a startup in Indonesia.

8. Questions from attendees

We summarized the Questions from Q&A session of this webinar as followings :

  1. Why is it not easy to go to see Bali and visit around Indonesia for foreigners?

  2. Why is the Indonesian Government restricting the foreigners living in Indonesia longer than 3 months?

  3. Are the speaker willing to start an own business in Indonesia or in another country?

  4. Why is exporting coconut oil stopped in Indonesia?

If you would like to know the answers to these questions , watch the FAQ session in above Webinar Recorded Video.

Feel Free to Comment if you have any questions!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. We will try to reply to your questions by asking as many as possible. If you have any webinar titles you like to hear from, comment below too.

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