This Indonesian Unicorn’s Focus on Inclusivity
GO-JEK’s Chief Technology Officer spoke with HQ Asia’s editor about the company’s journey from starting out as a call centre in 2011 to becoming Indonesia’s first unicorn.
While attending a keynote at the Strata Data Conference recently, I watched Chief Technology Officer, Ajey Gore, present GO-JEK’s story. While many companies have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice, Gore’s presentation showed the company’s focus on social and financial inclusivity. Founded in 2010, Gore shared that in 2011, when a customer would call the call centre with a need to transport something from point A to point B, a representative would call someone to do the transport.
Impacting a nation
During the keynote, Gore shared how GO-JEK went from a small start-up to, in the last two years, a company that has impacted a nation. He shared that GO-JEK has created more than 1 million jobs in Indonesia and its app has reached to 70 million downloads (statistic from Dec 2017).
In addition to creating jobs, the company is also addressing the unbanked population. According to “Banks urged to build digital services”, published in The Jakarta Post on 31 March 2017, credit card penetration is at 4% in Indonesia while its bank account penetration is at 36%. This is in a country with 261 million people. Gore is careful to note that GO-JEK’s service Go-Pay is not a competitor to banks. “We complement banks by enabling access to a means of earning, saving, and spending.”
“Technology is the most effective way to challenge the impossible,” shares Gore.
The management team believes that business has a role in advancing society. “To uplift an entire ecosystem requires a different mind-set,” explains Gore. One example that he shares is training people with poor sight to be masseuses. “Then they can then earn a wage and make a living.”
“GO-JEK takes an unorganised market and by making it organised, empowers the drivers, restaurants, and other small enterprises in the process,” says Gore. The platform replaces daily errands and provide services for users. “They [customers] can make specific requests. For example, a user might want to order fruit from a specific stall or ask for their food to be less spicy. We can provide that level of customisation,” he explains.
The first GO-JEK GoFood millionaire merchant → from foodstall to 1 million fried bananas
“GO-JEK has had their first Go-Food millionaire,” Gore says proudly. A pisang goreng stall that sells fried bananas went from making US$2,000 a month in revenue to US$90,000 a month. The business now has five shops. The owner, Kelvin Kristanto, explained that the first day they were on GO-JEK’s app, they received three orders. Today they see 350-400 drivers per day, and they sell approximately 400,000 bananas per month. This is what Gore means when he says that GO-JEK is impacting a nation, one at a time. He also notes that the people who work with GO-JEK—whether with Go-Food, Go-Ride, or Go-Shop—provide a service, and they are proud of the work they do.
When asked about what this next year will bring, Gore shares that 2018 “will be the year of digital payments, helping online merchants integrate Go-Pay (so that it works like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay)."
GO-JEK also wants to reach out to more micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises to help them grow and expand their business. Through digital payment systems we are not only becoming the ‘bridge’ between banks and the unbanked, but also supporting the Indonesian government to accelerate financial inclusion.