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The Optimist

Motorbikes Indonesia

Technology and trust: Investing in youth to accelerate economic progress

GO-JEK was born from an idea that people could do more, and better, if simply given the trust and the opportunity. With only a motorcycle, or ojek, as an asset, drivers indeed proved that they could rise to the occasion if we learned to trust them to do more. Because of this, GO-JEK is today a multi-service on-demand platform offering 17 services from ride-hailing to logistics, food delivery, and even massages, powered by a strong base of GO-JEK drivers who keep our business ticking. Along the way, we’ve helped give people opportunities to do more with their time. With over one million driver partners on our platform, we’ve helped address 15 percent of Indonesia’s employment needs, making, a significant contribution to the Indonesian economy since we launched our app three years ago.

This has shown us that trust and opportunity can go a long way, and we have adhered to this way of thinking ever since. Unemployment is a chief concern when it comes to the youth bulge we are experiencing, but perhaps most worrying to me is the cycle that perpetuates as a result of underemployment. There are numerous implications of underemployment from the loss of productivity, to loss of potential growth for a country’s economy, to the perpetuation of poverty. As time goes on, willing and able individuals lose the time and thus the ability for social mobility, both for themselves, and as a result, for their children. Underemployment results in stagnation for long periods of time, and this represents a major loss to the potential development of a country.

That is why I welcome the publication of this year’s Goalkeepers Data Report, which gives strong evidence for investing in young people to overcome obstacles to employment in order to spur economic growth.

It will always be important for business to invest in young people – to trust them and provide them with opportunities to step forward and prove their leadership potential. GO-JEK could not have become what it is today without the young people in whom we have invested as a business. Young people have a lot of drive and a willingness to learn and pick themselves up after failures or missteps, a quality that helps push us forward at the rapid pace we require, given the disruptive nature of this industry. We gain a lot from hearing innovative ideas that come from younger minds, and this is what keeps us constantly on our toes and open to new ways of doing things.

This is a huge asset to any company, and one that we have seen strongly at GO-JEK.

Young people form a core part of the GO-JEK heartbeat; indeed, 90 percent of our employees are millennials. But while GO-JEK is a technology company, technology and software alone are not enough to create impact without a workforce that cares deeply about social purpose in addition to profit margins. Young people feel strongly about a business’ core values and ethical standards, and when they are able to believe in a business, they will fight for the causes that that business stands for.

Finding talent is one of the biggest challenges we face in Indonesia and one of the ways to fill the gaps and to empower young people to become socially mobile is through education. We have been exploring ways to boost skills in the country, for instance by providing drivers with financial tools under our Swadaya program to invest in their children with education savings plans.

In the same way that we have benefitted hugely from investing in and trusting millennials, another key to GO-JEK’s success has been the inclusion of women on our teams. Thirty-one percent of GO-JEK’s leaders are women who add a diversity of thought and wealth of knowledge across the board, and whose contributions have undoubtedly added a further level of rigor to the quality of our ideas and strategies.

As a champion for gender equality, we have supported Generation Girl, a non-profit organization founded by women leaders at GO-JEK who share a passion for making an impact on education and technology in Indonesia. In addition to raising awareness of female talent in the STEM subjects, the team runs programs and workshops for young women on technical topics from how to build a website, to the basics of web and mobile development, thus grooming and encouraging the next generation of women leaders in technology. It is my hope that young women, both in Indonesia and globally, will look at some of GO-JEK’s women tech leaders and be motivated to pursue careers in technology and development as the industry would benefit greatly from the strengths that female members bring to a team.

GO-JEK started as the result of an idea about how we could make things better and easier for people on a day to day basis. I think the unprecedented growth of the business and the idea as above should inspire not just people, but governments and business leaders to reconsider their prevailing beliefs and assumptions about what people can do and how much we can achieve from making an initial investment, whether it be an investment in trust, or an investment in monetary terms.

I strongly believe in the power of young leaders to shape a better future. I hope that GO-JEK can serve as a model 10 or 20 years from now as the company that proved technology is a key enabler in unleashing an economy. It can help a country leapfrog into the next stage of societal evolution, by creating scalable efficiency and providing new opportunities for millions of people. That’s my hope – that GO-JEK can be the blueprint for development across the world.

About the Author

Nadiem Makarim
Nadiem Makarim is an Indonesian businessman. He is the founder and CEO of GO-JEK, Indonesia's largest on-demand multi-service platform.

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