Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Joint Ventures | Export
Kabepe Chakra | Mr Rachmat Badruddin
Mr Rachmat Badruddin

We take great care to maintain trust amongst everyone at the company, from boardroom to tea pickers, staying true to the principles upon which Chakra was founded.

Mr Rachmat Badruddin, President Director & Owner

With a history that dates back to the acquisition of the Dewata Tea Plantation in 1956, Kabepe Chakra, also known as Chakra Group, is one of Indonesia’s leading agribusiness companies. What can you tell us about your company’s founding and how you developed since then?

The Dewata Tea Plantation was previously owned by a Dutch company, Tiedeman van Kerchem that very much struggled to take advantage of the location and labour from the surrounding towns and villages. Recognizing the potential of the business, my father took the opportunity to try and succeed where the previous owners had failed by fostering an environment in which the employees felt that they could trust the people they worked for. Through creating an acceptable corporate culture, we were able to win the hearts of the locals and this has been a key to our success.

As chairman of the Indonesia Green Tea Cooperative and the Indonesian Tea Board what is your current outlook on the local tea industry?

Indonesia’s tea industry has not been aggressive in marketing its products, particularly compared to India and Sri Lanka. In order to realize our potential, this needs to change. At Chakra Group, we have taken upon the initiative to be more proactive in selling our brand via promotions. Furthermore, the outlook on the local tea industry largely depends on our ability to move towards creating value added products and to adapt to increasingly health conscious and environmentally friendly consumers who prefer to purchase goods from responsible businesses. Our company has thus prioritized working with Rainforest Alliance and abides by a high ethical standard. As a leader in the market, we expect others in the Indonesian tea industry to follow suit and should this turn out to be the case, future prospects look promising.

Having had considerable success in exporting tea across the world, what do you think will be Chakra Group’s next key international target market and where do you see the most potential?

Despite the recent financial crisis, our company still views Europe and the US as our key export markets, largely due to their reliability as buyers. To ensure that we are able to maintain our foothold in the West, we have had to adjust pricing to better suit customers that are now more price wary as a result of the economic downturn.

With that said, it is also important to remember that Indonesia has a population of 240 million people and as such there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of domestic consumption. Multiple foreign firms such as Twinings are entering the market because they recognize this potential and we have therefore advised other members of the Indonesian Tea Board to focus on more than just their exports, so that local businesses do not miss out on the chance to engage in the value added processes which tend to be the most lucrative aspects of tea production.

As a company that has an active international presence, what do you think should be done to make sure that Indonesia’s tea sector is seen as being able to produce high quality goods?

I do not think that the quality of Indonesia’s tea is inferior to that of our major competitors. This country has all the necessary ingredients to be able to produce first-rate tea. The fact that this image is not brought to light is indicative of a failure to undertake proper branding and marketing, and improving upon this is crucial to our competitiveness on a global scale. For example, I believe that tea plantations in Indonesia can be marketed as tourist attractions, complete with tea shops and museums.

What can you tell us about Chakra Group’s innovation priorities, new technologies that will be implemented and new products that are going to be introduced in the future?

Chakra Group has the technology needed to grow a host of different types of tea plants. Over the last ten years however, we have specialized in green tea. Our expertise in the production of green tea and our willingness to obtain certifications have facilitated agreements with companies such as Coca Cola, ABC President and Lipton that want to use our goods in making their tea beverages. In the future, we will move into selling value added tea products and hope to do so in cooperation with these aforementioned clients, who would be well served to partner up with an Indonesian company that truly understands the nuances of the local industry and labour force. We also hope to get small holders involved in this type of venture, so as to make sure that we are inclusive in making available new opportunities to move downstream.

What would you like to share about Chakra Group’s corporate culture?

At Chakra, we believe in the importance of modesty. Frequent interactions with neighboring smallholders serves as a poignant reminder to remain grounded in perspective and attitude, no matter how successful you become. We take great care to maintain trust amongst everyone at the company, from boardroom to tea pickers, staying true to the principles upon which Chakra was founded. In short, we are huge proponents of inclusive growth.

What would you like our readers to remember about your company, or Indonesia in general, as a final message?

This is a country that is very fertile, with year round production that cannot be matched in locations that have periodic spells of cold weather. It is also important to remember that our labour is more cost-effective than India and Sri Lanka in terms of wages. Anyone entering Indonesia that keeps these positives in mind and embraces the country’s rich culture will enjoy success in the tea industry, particularly if they decide to work closely with local businesses.

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2014

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