Shinta Widjaja Kamdani

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Building Capacity and Competitive Edge through Entrepreneurship

SHINTA Widjaja Kamdani is fortunate because she was born and raised in a family with a solid business background, so she did not have to start her career at the bottom rung of ladder. In 1987 at a young age Shinta, who was born in Jakarta on February 9, 1967 was appointed as the director of the family’s company PT Tigaraksa (TIRA). This group of companies established in 1980 has interests in the sale, distribution and manufacturing of consumer products, manufacturing, import and direct sales of gas stoves and various kitchen appliances as well as gas refilling and import and direct sales of school text books for children.  

To equip herself further to hold such a high position she studied psychology and dance at Barnard College of Columbia University, New York, graduating in 1989. From 2000 until 2002 she continued her studies at Harvard Business School for Executive Education, Boston. “If one does not deepen one’s knowledge he or she will be left behind,” said Shinta.  

Apart from being a director at the holding company, Shinta was previously National Sales Manager and Promotion & Purchasing Manager at one of the affiliate companies, PT Tigaraksa Satria (1989 – 1991), and later director of another affiliate company, PT Dirsa Ulitra Kosmetika (1991-1993).  

Shinta is fully aware that many people assume that she holds such a strategic position because she is working in the family business. However, Shinta aims to demonstrate to her family and the world her real potential as a woman who is capable of continuing the family business. “Passion and a sense of responsibility are the two balancing factors to achieve success,” she explained.  

“Most success comes from positive thinking. Sometimes we have to take a certain route to arrive at our intended destination. The key is positive thinking based on passion and a full sense of responsibility,” added Shinta who views life and her career as a learning process.  

This is her main asset in leading Sintesa Group which was established in 1992. The Sintesa Group has investments in many companies, including companies within the TIRA Group and other independent companies. Two of the companies are listed at the Indonesia Stock Exchange.  

Sintesa succeeded in convincing renowned international companies to invest in companies under the Sintesa Group, creating a powerful domestic-international bond. Sintesa is recognized as a group that understands Indonesia, which is often seen as a country with manifold intricacies that present difficulties to foreign investors.  

As it has done with its international business partners, Sintesa has been able to guide companies, in which they have equity, through the complex Indonesian business environment and see them thrive. “Sintesa is always looking for synergies in developing a business. The best way to merge businesses is to have a merger of minds,” said Shinta, Managing Director of Sintesa Group.  

While in her career Shinta could be said to have reached the pinnacle she is now starting to expand her vision about enterprising. Together with 13 other Indonesian entrepreneurs she set up Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI) in January 2011. Among the founders of GEPI are Ciputra and Jacob Oetama, who have an excellent record and experience in their efforts to support the achievement and development of entrepreneurship here in Indonesia.  

According to Shinta, who has been entrusted as vice chair, GEPI is set up to strengthen the growth of entrepreneurship in Indonesia and to act as a catalyst in the entrepreneurship strategy in the country. “The objective is to make global opportunities available for Indonesian entrepreneurs in collaboration with ongoing programs and connect the Indonesian entrepreneurs with global investment prospects,” she said.  

In any country, she added, it is proven that the people become prosperous when its government prioritizes entrepreneurship in the country’s main development agenda. “Take Singapore and Malaysia for example, they have become progressive nations and their people are now prosperous because their governments are extremely serious in developing entrepreneurship,” explained Shinta.  

Shinta, whose husband is Irwan Kamdani, also a businessman, is of the opinion that if Indonesia wishes to solve its poverty and unemployment woes the most accurate solution is to create many successful entrepreneurs. Therefore the government must change the current mindset that formal education is merely for getting a job, but rather there is a better choice than simply working: opening up a business opportunity, that is.  

“The Indonesian government and the private business sector in collaboration with the United States is developing GEPI to opens up further opportunities for young entrepreneurs in creating their bright ideas,” said the mother of four.  

The entrepreneurship program at the global level was originally the initiative of the President Obama and now has become the main program of US State Department, implemented directly by Secetary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. This is done to promote entrepreneurship as the main pillar of economic growth for developing countries.  

According to Shinta although it has shown some bright signs entrepreneurship in Indonesia still has a long way to go because capital and funds are still a constraint. That is why she relentlessly campaigns for GEPI which actively participates in acquiring the required capital and funds. “We have to walk the talk,” she emphasized.  

As an umbrella organization GEPI collaborates with its partners in building entrepreneurship here through a number of activities, such as: 1. Developing further awareness regarding the importance of entrepreneurship and various innovations in Indonesia; 2. Together creating a conducive ecosystem for the development of entrepreneurship; 3. Collaborating with groups of entrepreneurs and the Indonesian government in improving the environment for the creation of entrepreneurship; 4. Together creating the certainty for the availability of funding access at the national as well as global levels for new entrepreneurs; and 5. Assisting the entrepreneurs and innovators to go international.  

One of the objectives in the establishment of GEPI is to turn the challenges into opportunities for the Indonesian entrepreneurs and innovators. “Of course hard work and serious efforts are needed to build the capacity and the competitive edge and to give the entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete at the regional and global levels,” said Shinta.   On July 23-24, 2011 GEPI will hold Regional Entrepreneurship Summit (RES) in Bali with the Trade Ministry as the organizing host.

“The event will be attended by entrepreneurs, experts and investors from 10 ASEAN countries as well as China and India to discuss the theme about the importance of building entrepreneurships and the efforts to map out the strategy in boosting entrepreneurship in a country,” said Shinta who loves choreography, skiing and reading. (Burhan Abe)  

The Jakarta Post, July 09, 2011

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