Torajamelo – Weaving a successful enterprise

Success enterprise

ndonesia as a country has long been associated with having a strong culture of craftsmanship. This culture has attracted entrepreneurs from within and outside Indonesia to setup and create business opportunities that benefit the communities in the region. Torajamelo has been at the forefront of these activities since 2008 and was also a Finalist at the maiden Sankalp Indonesia Awards during the Southeast Asia Summit.

We were able to speak to Lanny Jauhari, who in her capacity as a Marketing Head for Torajamelo reflected on the journey of the enterprise since 2008 and also their experience from attending Sankalp.

Sankalp Forum: Hi Ms. Lanny, I would like to start this conversation with you asking what has the story of Torajamelo been since its inception and how it has evolved till now?

Lanny: Torajamelo was initially started in 2008 with only 2 weavers in Toraja, South Sulawesi. The concept was to create a fashion house that promoted the use of indigenous hand woven textile and kept alive the traditional method of weaving as well. Today, Torajamelo works with approximately 750 weavers in 4 different areas of Eastern Indonesia. It established itself as a legal entity in 2010, and has since also expanded its range of products to include gift souvenirs and home furnishings. Let me also add that Torajamelo’s success over the past 5 years has prompted weaver communities from neighboring islands to also consider working with us, and therefore expand our scope of impact.

Sankalp Forum: What are the key challenges that you have encountered in scaling your business?

Lanny: I would say that our biggest challenges have been in three areas: investor patience, talent management and undefined business model. Let me be more specific on each point. For investor patience I mean the fact that many investors underestimate the value of our business because it is difficult to quantify the socio-economic impact of the business in the communities we are working with. For Talent management, considering that we have a longer gestation period compared to other conventional businesses, to find resources that have a shared vision and determination with Torajamelo is often a struggle. Lastly, for undefined business model I mean that it’s been difficult to have a solid business model, yet agile as the lack of quality advisory and institutional support has often thrown a spanner in the quest for creating a sustainable and scalable enterprise.

Sankalp Forum: Do you think current regulations and policies support enterprises like yours to grow? And, based on your experience, do you have any suggestions to improve these further?

Lanny: Unlike Malaysia or Vietnam, Indonesia does not currently have any legal and/or tax policies that support social enterprises in particular. However, the initiative to support Social Enterprises is gaining traction with many organizations advocating the need and benefits of it to the current administration. Hence, for the growth of social enterprises in Indonesia, it’s imperative for the Government to come up with its own definition of a ‘Social Enterprise’ that can be translated to respective regulations and policies.

Sankalp Forum: Today we see Southeast Asia countries moving towards economic integration with initiatives like ASEAN and AEC, so what would this mean for your business?

Lanny: I think we should see it as a great opportunity to collaborate with other enterprises in the region that will promote the creation of a common market for ASEAN products. It will also enhance competitiveness that will eventually improve the quality and services of these enterprises in the region. We currently work closely with a multi-stakeholder organization based in Singapore to create demand and a marketing hub for our products in the ASEAN and Asian market.

Sankalp Forum: What were the different opportunities that you encountered as a participant at Sankalp?

Lanny: Sankalp gave us exposure to meet various stakeholders of business and investment, especially stakeholders that have interest in the realm of social enterprises. Through Sankalp, we also got to understand the importance of preparing a robust business proposal and an effective pitch for attracting relevant investors. The Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit definitely played a critical role in helping us access the inclusive development ecosystem and was instrumental making us aware of the incredible impact potential the region has to offer.

Sankalp Forum: Thanks for your time Lanny, and we look forward to your participation at the 2nd edition of the Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit.

(Source: Sankalp Forum)

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