Ruangguru, Amartha founders made aides to Indonesian President

President Joko Widodo (center) with the new presidential aides Andi Taufan Garuda Putra (extreme left) and Adamas Belva Syah Devara (third from left). Source: Facebook

Seven young leaders appointed to assist President Joko Widodo in non-ministerial tasks, with an emphasis on innovation

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has appointed two young startup founders as his presidential aides.  The two  - Adamas Belva Syah Devara and Andi Taufan Garuda Putra - were introduced  by Jokowi alongside five other young leaders on Thursday, November 21. Belva is the co-founder of edtech startup Ruangguru and Andi is the founder of SME-focused P2P lender Amartha.

“Their task is to encourage innovation in all fields. So, every single one of them are youths,” Jokowi said, when he introduced his new aides. The president also expressed hope that they will help connect him with Indonesia's youth and diaspora.

Aides to the president provide advice and assistance for matters that are not specifically dealt with by ministries or other government agencies. Previously, aides have handled, among others, communications between the president and ministries, regional autonomy matters and distribution of village development funds. 

It is not immediately clear whether Andi will leave his post at Amartha, but Belva will remain as Ruangguru’s CEO.  Another startup CEO, Nadiem Makarim, co-founder of ride-hailing startup Gojek, stepped down from his position when Jokowi recently appointed him as Minister of Education and Culture.

Young and successful

Prior to establishing Ruangguru, Belva completed an MBA at Stanford University and an MPA at Harvard University. He was a consultant at McKinsey and in 2011 completed a stint as an intern in the Office of the President of Indonesia. Together with co-founder and CPO Iman Usman, Belva started Ruangguru in 2016 as a platform to connect private tutors with prospective students. It is now a comprehensive online learning platform for K-12 students.

Andi started work in a micro-finance co-operative that would later become Amartha in 2010 to support farmers and micro-business owners who desperately needed financing. After earning an MPA at Harvard University’s Kennedy School in 2016, Andi revamped Amartha into a P2P micro-finance lender focussing on helping micro-businesses run by rural women.

Ruangguru closed its Series B round in May this year, with UOB Venture Management leading the round. In August, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that SoftBank will invest in Ruangguru (alongside fishery startup Aruna). 

Amartha last raised equity funding in a 2017 Series A round led by Bank Mandiri, one of Indonesia’s largest banks. This year, Amartha attracted another four banks as lenders on its P2P platform.

Millennial rising stars

The youngest among the seven aides is Putri Indahsari Tanjung, the daughter of CT Group founder Chairul Tanjung. At 23, she is the founder and CEO of Creativepreneur Event Creator, a company that focusses on planning events that encourage entrepreneurship among youths.

Another appointee, Gracia Billy Yosaphat Mambrasar, is the founder and CEO of Kitong Bisa, a nonprofit that works to empower indigenous youth by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills. Billy has been an advisor for oil company BP and the Ministry of Education, assisting these organizations in social and sustainability matters in his native province, Papua. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Oxford University.

The other aides introduced on Thursday are Ayu Kartika Dewi, managing director of the Indika Foundation, Aminuddin Ma’ruf, former head of the Indonesian Islamic Student Movement and Angkie Yudistia, founder of Thisable Enterprise, a social enterprise working to empower disabled people.

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Edited by S. Mani

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