Would you mind sharing a little bit about SBH? How did it come to be and what are some important milestones to share?
In close cooperation with the Foreign & Economic Ministries and the official Trade & Investment Agency Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) it was mutually decided that the ASEAN region becomes more and more important, especially Indonesia as the largest economy. Based on that, the Swiss Business Hub (SBH) Indonesia went operationally live with my presence and arrival back in June 2017. Fact is, Indonesia was and still is not on top of mind amongst Swiss companies, hence constant awareness creation and promotion is needed. Patience and lots of efforts also provided by my Senior Trade Officer, Ms. Feranica Susanto, finally paid off resulting into initial projects.
What are some of your core responsibilities as Head of SBH?
As part of the Embassy of Switzerland in Jakarta, the SBH is uniquely positioned to support a variety of business requirements, especially SMEs from Switzerland and Liechtenstein in their market entry into Indonesia. Amongst the “SwissEcosystem” in the market, the Swiss Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and the Swiss Centre Indonesia are strategic partners of the SBH.
With an excellent network of contacts and industry experts in the market, the SBH will help Swiss companies understand how to do business in Indonesia, decide on a suitable market strategy and connect with suitable local business partners. Based on a client-centred attitude and catered to specific requirements approach, these are typical service packages rendered by the SBH and its expert partners:
- Market intelligence
- Legal and regulatory clarifications
- Distribution partner search
- Tailor made fact finding trips
- Trade Fair participation
From your vantage point, what’s your take on the nation’s economic & business recovery?
As many experts keep projecting, it’s a marathon to get back to a “new normal”. It will take huge efforts from all government stakeholders and the private sector to reach the needed growth figures on GDP level. The SBH is trying hard to play its role to attract Swiss FDI and convince Swiss companies to invest in Indonesia, indeed a promising and attractive emerging market. Fortunately, Swiss entrepreneurs typically take a long-term view when it comes to entering and opening up new far-away-markets. For that, patience and persistence is needed.
In general, how are Swiss companies (your members) here affected by the pandemic, and what is their “reopening” plan now that we are supposedly transitioning to normal?
Take note, there are about 150 Swiss companies and brands already active in Indonesia, employing more than 50,000 people and creating an accumulated capital stock of USD 6.5 billion. These companies are here to stay and continue to invest e.g. into new production locations, modern warehousing & distribution facilities or laboratories & innovation centers. Many, it is not to say all companies, are affected in one or the other way. The biggest obstacles currently are travel restrictions, reduced demand (dry project/order pipelines) and as a result of the crisis, pressure on profits and cost structures.
Business-wise, what do you think we can learn from everything that happened in the first half of 2020?
Digitalisation or “Industry 4.0” as well as E-Commerce will continue to play a key role across most industries and sectors. Companies are forced to reconsider their business models, revamp their product portfolios & sales channels and may even question global value chains which partially became fragile or even unreliable. All that combined forces companies to boost innovation, become more efficient (time to market) or customer centric. Personally, I learnt how to manage various modern communication platforms, be it to participate in webinars or video conferences. Indeed efficient tools to conduct meetings or engage with various networks. However, and here comes my point, “you can’t fax/e-mail a handshake”, meaning also in the future and despite digitalisation we need personal interactions with business partners.