Indonesian entrepreneurs face many challenges in commerce these days. According to the World Bank Group, the country is No. 114 on a list of 189 economies ranked for their ease of doing business in the global marketplace. While that standing has improved in recent years, some of the hardest challenges that business owners face still include issues like resolving insolvency and getting credit.
They also face significant challenges in trading across borders. Some of those challenges are due to regulatory and financial issues like getting export documentation handled and the cost of exporting goods to other countries. This is illustrated in the numbers: The U.S., for example, ranks 24th (out of 189) in the ease of trading across borders; Indonesia is 62nd.
The difficulties that businesses face in everyday commerce are often magnified by their lack of access to things we take for granted in the West, like having a website. That visibility by potential customers is really important to a business owner's ability to make a living, said Andy Dwonch, CEO of Kolabo, which sets up websites for entrepreneurs.
And, of course, compounding that challenge is that all-familiar learning curve of setting up a website.
"Many of our clients when we meet them for the first time, they may have an inkling of what it means to have a website, but the understanding of what it takes to get to that point is pretty fuzzy."
Kolabo's efforts to improve access to the Web have attracted the attention of the ebay Foundation, which is now partnering with Kolabo in its mission. Ebay's Opportunity Project partners with organizations and companies to improve access to education and economic resources for small, medium and growing businesses. Kolabo is one of a handful of such entities that receive resources from the Opportunity Project.
But Kolabo doesn't just receive funding. Companies like Kolabo gain access to expertise in areas that eBay is best suited to inform: connecting buyers and sellers in the marketplace, explained Amy Millington, president of the eBay Foundation.
"We're looking at ways that we can apply our technology and our skills-based volunteers to help [companies like] Kolabo grow and have even more impact," said Millington.
The outcome is a benefit to all sides. Kolabo gains community interface and access to clients, while the growing business gains visibility. Of course, eBay benefits as well, by increasing its global brand and access to new markets.
To set up the new website, Kolabo first sits down with the entrepreneurs and helps them determine the kind of site they need. According to Dwonch, Kolabo does everything, from the initial research to the photography and website set-up, and then teaches the entrepreneurs how to manage their sites.
"The ripple effect can really be felt throughout the community," said Millington, who pointed out that the increasing success of a small business can have exponential impact on its neighbors, as well as its business owners.
The eBay Foundation posted testimonies and images of some of the small businesses that have benefited from Kolabo and this partnership. Most interesting is that eBay's concept is not only opening door to online advertising for the businesses, but also presents a way to break through many of those challenges faced in connecting with global buyers -- by providing a platform on which to connect with buyers.
For eBay, which is forecast to grow an average of 12.41 percent over the next five years, their investment in Kolabo's expertise and community engagement appears to be smart business.
Check out the video below for more information on the partnership.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.