From lecture theatre to Indonesian village

From lecture theatre to Indonesian village

Four students from Victoria Business School joined 35 others from across the world for a Social Economic Enterprise Development programme run by the School of Business Management at the Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia.

Students from across the world attended the Social Economic Enterprise Development programme, including four students from VBS.

Read about the experience from fifth year Commerce and Law student, Jared Cotton.

At the end of July, I flew to Indonesia with fellow undergraduate students Ananya Elias, Laurie Ingle, and Aleksander Noble-Campbell to take part in the Social Economic Enterprise Development (SEED) programme at the School of Business Management at the Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia.

It’s a two week programme aimed at developing students ability to interact and manage differences in cultural backgrounds by working in cross-cultural, multilingual teams to conduct a study on the economic potential of rural communities in Indonesia.

The first part of the programme consisted of lectures at the School of Business Management. We had the privilege of listening to lectures on social enterprise and entrepreneurship by lecturers from Indonesia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, including Professor Ian Williamson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Victoria Business School.

From left to right: Victoria Business School student Jared with Professor Ian Williamson and fellow business students Aleksander, Ananya and Laurie.

The 39 students attending SEED were then split into four groups to journey to four different villages in Sukasari, Sumedang. Each group spent seven days in a village. Here we had the opportunity to embrace and experience the daily life of local villagers—from group aerobics in the morning to playing games with the children in the afternoon, we slept, cooked and lived with these villagers. This was the experience of a life time.

The students undertook a live project in the village. As a part of the project, by the end of the week each group was expected to propose a new product to the villagers.

SEED programme students spent a week in villages across Sukasari to experience the daily life of local villagers and to help develop, market and distribute a new product for the village.

Aleks and I stayed in Banyuresmi village. This was a community of farmers whose main produce was coffee cherries, tobacco, and vegetables. All farming processes were manual, labour intensive, and knowledge had been passed down from parent to child over generations. There was very little post-harvest processing of crops which were sold to brokers at low margin. The group decided to focus on product development of Ladu (a traditional black rice pudding), and Cascara tea (made from the previously discarded skins of coffee cherries). This involved sharing knowledge both between farmers in Banyuresmi and with farmers outside Banyuresmi, helping the villagers design brand image, and find distribution channels for the new products.

Jared and Aleks helped their local village with product development and distribution of Ladu (left) and Cascara tea (right).

In the village in which Ananya stayed, a group of 10 students were successful in introducing a ‘Thailand Sambal’. The students noticed that Sambal was a dish that was served in every meal in the village. An innovative observation and discussion by the students resulted in the identification of an opportunity to create a new flavour of Sambal. The international flavour of the students themselves, who were from four different countries, paved the way for a Thailand style Sambal. As a waste management initiative, the group also noticed that slightly defective tomatoes were thrown away. A cooking class with all the mothers in the village was organised where they were taught to make Sambal using slightly defective tomatoes.

Laurie stayed in Malaka Village. The students quickly realised that the village produced coffee and rice that was sold wholesale to various brokers at a low margin. This presented an opportunity to combine the two products to create a high margin coffee and rice body scrub. The students came up with a business plan for this new product, capitalising on social media marketing and distribution to ensure the village captured a greater segment of the value chain than they were able to before.

Overall, the SEED programme changed our perspectives and made us appreciate the life in remote villages.

Jared Cotton is a fifth year Commerce and Law student.