This sponsored post, part of a series on Asia’s Young Social Entrepreneurs, is brought to you by DBS Bank. In partnership with the National University of Singapore, DBS is a proud supporter of the Social Venture Challenge, an Asia-wide competition for social enterprises.
Society can work really well when people take care of each other, summarized Vikra Ijas, co-founder of an Indonesian crowdfunding platform called Kitabisa, which focuses on raising money for projects with a social focus.
Ijas talks about a personal experience that made him think this way. When he was 14, his family moved from Indonesia to New Zealand to search for a better life. While driving on unfamiliar roads, his mother suddenly took a wrong turn and ended up crashing into another car. No one got hurt, but that wasn’t the most surprising thing to him. Immediately after the crash, he saw a passerby comforting his mom and a few others calling for the police and ambulance. “In contrast to what happens in my country, if such events happen people will just flock and watch,” he said.
Life in New Zealand showed him that care, tolerance, and acceptance is a beautiful thing, not the conflicts and apathy he grew up seeing in Indonesia.
After finishing his undergrad in business in New Zealand, Ijas went on to work in the private sector. His company decided to expand in Southeast Asia and he figured this was an opportunity to make a homecoming and start building his country. So in 2012, he moved backed to Indonesia.
In Indonesia, he happened to encounter Alfatih Timur (Timmy), who was working on an idea of using crowdfunding as a social change tool. Ijas was immediately impressed. So much so that he decided to join in on the journey.
Timmy was influenced to work on social causes by his father who was a doctor. Upon graduation, his father decided to stay in their village to provide services to the poor instead of going into the city. “I was raised while looking at people asking for my father’s help. Most of the time he does it for free,” said Timmy.
Though he wants to contribute like his father, Timmy thinks more like an economist. He feels that movements have to be sustainable, otherwise the impact is limited. “I think that’s what’s missing for my father. He didn’t build a system or business or something more sustainable,” said Timmy.
In the words of Grace Sai, co-founder of Hub Singapore who spoke to them at the Social Venture Challenge, a social entrepreneur must have elements of Mother Teresa and Richard Branson.
“I think what she’s trying to say is you need to sincerity, wholeheartedness, and mindfulness of Mother Teresa, but also the reckless, crazy, creative guts of Richard Branson. Timmy’s dad is doing such a great cause, but he could have done so much more if he has that Richard Branson mentality,” said Ijas.
While in university, Timmy observed that many people in Indonesia have a mix of brilliant ideas, determination, and idealism to make the country better, but severely lack the resources to implement their projects. As a result, he created Kitabisa to fill the resource gap but more importantly, inspire crowd-driven movements and crowd-driven innovation. As Ijas puts it, Kitabisa “is connecting good people”.
“Timmy and I believe that in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world, there are so many people who search for more than material things, who live in search for meaning, who want to contribute,” said Ijas.
There’s a strong desire for change in Indonesia, especially among youth. For too long, the country has been plagued with problems such as widespread corruption and conflict. But today Ijas sees less apathy among youth and, possibly due to other youth-led movements worldwide, youth in Indonesia are realizing that if they unite they can make their own realities.
“Youth-driven movements re-inspire the older generation to provide the resources, expertise, and experiences that they’ve gained to support youth,” added Ijas.
To sustain the business, Kitabisa takes a five percent crowdfunding fee. Although crowdfunding is not as widespread in Indonesia as it is in the West, the company has 18 successful projects so far, raising $45,000 mainly for education, environment, and health.
Ultimately, Ijas sees Kitabisa as a tool to bring strangers together for the common good, the same way his family got help from passersby after the car crash.
“We hope to see a lot of social movements, social enterprises, and innovations be realized with the help of our platform,” said Ijas. “Through our platform, the government, private sector, communities, NGOs, and individuals can collaborate together to solve urgent issues.”
Watch this video to learn more about Kitabisa:
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.