COOP Champions

Tendy Gunawan, National Programme Officer at ILO Jakarta

COOP Champions features ILO colleagues from around the world working on cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises. It highlights their contributions, and shares highlights of their experiences, current work, and future aspirations.

Article | 26 April 2021

Could you tell us about yourself? How did you get interested and involved in working with cooperatives?

Tendy Gunawan
After completing my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering in Indonesia in 1998, I obtained a master’s degree in System Engineering in Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the Netherlands. Since 2001, I have been working in various sectors, including banking, manufacturing, and in non-profit organizations. In 2009, I joined the ILO Jakarta Office as a National Project Coordinator, supporting various youth employment and local economic development projects. This is when I was first introduced to the work of the ILO on cooperatives. The Country Director of our Office at that time, Mr Peter van Rooij, was a big supporter of the cooperative model and introduced me to colleagues in the Cooperatives Unit in Geneva. The Cooperatives Unit assisted the Jakarta Office in adopting various ILO tools and training modules on cooperatives. Currently, I work as a National Programme Officer covering the enterprise and employment portfolios, including promotion of cooperatives.

How have you been working on cooperatives and other SSE enterprises at the ILO?

Cooperatives and wider SSE models are well suited to the culture and people in Indonesia. While supporting the local economic development project in Maluku province in 2010, the cooperative model improved the communities’ livelihoods and brought the Muslim and Christian communities together. A 2016-2019 project on Promoting Micro and Small Enterprise through Improved Entrepreneurs Access to Financial Services (PROMISE IMPACT) aimed at improving policies and programs on development of entrepreneurship and cooperatives to promote more and better jobs for men and women, including through financial inclusion. The project was trying to test whether financial service providers are able to provide non-financial services to their clients and improve their livelihoods. We learned that financial cooperatives are successful in providing tailored support to their clients and members, to expand their outreach and help their businesses grow.

We also piloted the Entrepreneurship Training for Indonesian Entrepreneurs and Refugees titled “Ready for Business Training Programme” in collaboration with UNHCR, to support refugees in Indonesia become more self-sufficient and facilitate their integration into the host community. The project, using the ILO’s Ready for Business (R4B) entrepreneurship module, provides a six months entrepreneurship training to local Indonesian youth and refugees. The training was facilitated by two partner organizations, Atma Jaya Catholic University and Dompet Dhuafa, an Islamic philanthropy organisation that is devoted to empowering the poor. At the end of the six months training, the local Indonesian youth and refugees formed a social enterprise to support other refugees. The project helped empower the Indonesian youth and refugees, bringing economic benefit to host and refugee communities and fostered tolerance among host communities by reducing stigma and discrimination.

Currently, ILO Jakarta Office is seeking to assist other vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities that face challenges in accessing the labour market, to benefit from economic empowerment through cooperatives and other SSE models. We are also looking at ways to support platform and digital workers using the cooperative approach.

How do you see the future of cooperatives and the wider SSE? What do you think is needed for them to play a more prominent role in Indonesia?

There are many opportunities to introduce the concept of SSE in Indonesia. Various types of SSE units, like cooperatives and social enterprises, are widely known but are not dealt with in a systematic and cohesive manner. Policies on SSE are not in place yet in Indonesia. ILO Jakarta Office and our constituents could further support and advocate this initiative. We could work with the Cooperatives Unit in Geneva to seek peer-to-peer learning opportunities, to learn from other countries that have successfully implemented various policies and programs on SSE.

With a more systematic approach, we hope that in the future, we will have more incentives and support for SSE to grow and contribute to the economy while ensuring that no one is left behind.