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Teamwork makes the entrepreneurship dream work

A trio of young entrepreneurs are taking the leap into Jakarta’s creative accessories market with the support of ILO’s Ready for Business youth entrepreneurship programme.

Feature | 04 February 2020
ILO-UNHCR Ready for Business participant, Ivana Angel Walangitan wears her custom head wrap before getting on a motorbike taxi
JAKARTA, Indonesia (ILO News) - Each time Ivana Angel Walangitan, 25, hailed a motorbike taxi on her way to work, she dreaded putting on the helmet provided by the driver.

“It can be uncomfortable and is not very clean,” she says. Tired of lugging her own helmet everywhere and determined not to use a disposable plastic head wrap she thought of sewing her own wrap made with pieces of old clothing.

Encouraged by friends and other fellow commuters, Walangitan could see potential in turning her idea into a practical, fashionable and sustainable product. But how could she bring her novel idea to market and keep it running as a business?

Teaming up for success

In June 2019, Walangitan signed up for the ILO’s Ready for Business youth (R4B) entrepreneurship programme, where she met Alda Chrisvantina, 21, an accounting student at Atma Jaya Catholic University and Fahim Hashim, 26, a self-taught artist who arrived in Indonesia as a refugee back in 2013. Co-led by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Ready for Business programme (R4B) prepares local and refugee youth for the world of entrepreneurship - giving them an opportunity to incubate their ventures, develop key business skills and build their network.

The three entrepreneurs had expected to develop their respective business ventures alone. However, they recognized their mutual interest in sustainable design and decided to combine their innovations and individual talents.

Alda Chrisvantina (L), Ivana Angel Walangitan (C) and Fahim Hashim (R), co-founders of AFA Creative Studios
After five months of working together on practical entrepreneurship activities and fine-tuning their business plan, the trio launched AFA Creative Studios, a design agency focused on producing creative accessories using sustainable approaches. The agency offers a range of custom and printed tote bags and helmet head covers sourced from re-purposed clothing like denim.

“The head covers are custom-tailored so they’re designed to fit really well. We’re experimenting with new ways and fabrics, and to get them waterproof,” says Walangitan.

For Hashim, the R4B programme helped him turn his passion for art into an actual business: “When I first joined, I thought I’d start something food-related or culinary. I only did drawings as a hobby, and I knew how to cut and sew bags from working at my father’s factory. Here, the training and my friends helped me realize that I could turn what I already knew and enjoyed doing into something bigger.”

Opportunities to network

The ILO-UNHCR programme is implemented with partners Atma Jaya Catholic University and non-profit organization, Dompet Dhuafa. Participants learn from each other rather than from external experts or trainers, working intensively in group-based exercises, aided by a facilitator. They also learn financial planning, marketing and business management skills and benefit from advice and tips from local entrepreneurs.

ILO-UNHCR Ready for Business participants and entrepreneurship team, Ivana Angel Walangitan (L), Alda Chrisvantina (C), and Fahim Hashim (R) discuss their business plan
“Interestingly enough, some of the world’s most recognizable companies were borne out of college dorm rooms, late nights at the office, the casual exchange of ideas between friends and personal networks,” says Charles Bodwell, the ILO’s Enterprise Development Specialist for East Asia, SE Asia and the Pacific. “Our goal is to create sustainable enterprises – business for people, society and planet. Young people and youth are the drivers of this change.”

Approximately 40 participants graduated in January. Some received seed funding based on their business development plans and growth potential.

The three entrepreneurs who founded AFA Creative Studios are now testing out ways to grow their business through e-commerce and new distribution channels.

“We know it won’t be easy and will face challenges,’ said Hashim, ‘but I am more confident now because of this training and we’ll be able to face them together.”

For further information, please contact:

Tendy Gunawan
National Programme Officer
International Labour Organization, ILO Country Office for Indonesia and Timor-Leste

Sara Andersson
Enterprise Development Technical Officer
International Labour Organization, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific