Mentoring the Management

By Bankers without Borders® Daniel J. Kreps

Where do international bankers go when they retire? They can become “Bankers without Borders” at Grameen Foundation and help build a world without poverty. This sounds like something only the dewy-eyed young aspire to do. But it makes a great deal of sense for someone like me, with years of international business experience, to become involved in as well. That is why I am so appreciative of the opportunity I have to work with PT Ruma, a start-up social enterprise in Jakarta focused on creating businesses for poor entrepreneurs in Indonesia.

The company is the brain-child of two young Indonesians, Budiman Wikarsa and Aldi Haryopratomo, who have put together a very talented group of managers and staff. With technical and financial support of Grameen Foundation and Qualcom Corporation it began operations in August of 2009. My role is to mentor the management in three key areas: internal financial processes and controls; strategy for expanding the company’s sources of financing, and reviewing the business model and plan in preparation for attracting other social investors to support the company.

PT Ruma is best described as a “micro-franchising” company. Its mission is creating small business franchises that poor entrepreneurs can learn to run and support themselves. The first franchise business it has focused on is retail sales of cell phone air time in rural villages and poor urban neighborhoods. I was able to spend three weeks in Indonesia with PT Ruma, meeting management and staff and visiting several of the now over 1,500 entrepreneurs, called village phone operators (VPO).

It was an incredible experience. I have come away very impressed with the management and staff and the impact they are having reducing the poverty of their constituency. While many challenges remain in achieving their goal of sustainability, I am encouraged by their progress and eager to continuing assisting them.

Learn more at Daniel's blog.

Disclaimer: The views represented here are solely those of the volunteer and do not necessarily represent the views of Bankers without Borders, Grameen Foundation, our sponsors, the microfinance institutions, or the volunteer’s employer.