COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected various businesses gravely, business-wise and management-wise. So how does Mrs. Helianti Hilman, the founder of Javara approached this matter to keep itself running and relevant amidst the uprising terror?
In response to the COVID-19 effects, Mrs. Helianti Hilman and the Javara team has designed numerous strategies to ensure Javara’s well-being in terms of business and sales, such as:
- Activating Javara’s online presence through e-commerce to leverage the sales
- Transferring the CEO and other positions such as IT to experienced professionals to help build Javara’s online system.
The COVID-19 has surely made Mrs. Helianti’s schedule more packed. As the Jakarta’s new regulations ‘PSBB’ started to be in effect, Mrs.Helianti was forced to work 12 hours a day at the very least. She had to attend online meetings, check the sales data on various B2C platforms, whilst also designing new products.
“Saya sampai diprotes anak karena kerja terus,”“My kid even complained because i work continuously.”
Javara itself is a company that sells organic produce, with partners being thousands of local farmers throughout Indonesia. We sell rice, flour, spices, coconut oils, sugars, honey, and snacks. Our products are sold in various supermarkets and organic stores; and they’re also used by many restaurants, hotels, and catering businesses to create gourmet foods. Our products are also exported to more than 25 countries.
According to, Mrs. Helianti Hilman there’s no problem in terms of sales abroad; in fact, it’s prospering. It’s doing so well that she had managed to talk to a number of potential buyers from Singapore, Portuguese, and the US in the last two months. Yet, in contrast to this, the local market is not doing as well.
20% of Javara’s sales come from Hotels, catering, and other businesses. However, during the pandemic, customers from the mentioned segment also dropped vigorously, resulting in a temporary closure of some of these businesses. As such, Javara had no choice but to quickly activate its e-commerce market, where it only contributed 1% of total sales previously.
This was the reason that made the head of ex-CEO of Javara spins, she still have difficulty to understand the way online meetings works.
“Saya itu golongan kolonial’. Kalau ketemu digital, mata saya agak berkunang-kunang, ha-ha-ha…”“When i meet digital system, my eyes can’t see clearly, ha ha ha…”
Mrs. Helianti Hilman had to jump into the boat herself. Being the Chief Creative and Community officer, she had to learn to read consumer’s big data from scratch, as only after reading the data she’s able to create new products that will be popular amongst the consumer.
“Saya juga mesti belajar membaca kecenderungan perilaku konsumen online,”“I also have to learn the online customer behaviour,”
For example, she had the idea to create a ‘Superfood Cireng’, made from tapioca flour from Papua, and Butterfly Pea. Mrs. Helianti got her idea after seeing the steep rise of coconut oil sales during the pandemic, where they managed to sell up to 3.5 tons worth of coconut oils in their flagship store per month.
Mrs. Helianti asked the chefs of Javara’s kitchen, a restaurant that exists within the Javara Culture Kemang store to create an innovative Cireng with the Papua tapioca flour that doesn’t make the blood sugar level rises drastically like other flours. She also asked the Sekolah Seniman Pangan (The Artisan Farmer School), another company built by her to create a nugget superfood based on nutritious vegetables, such as beetroots and moringa leaves, to make people have an easier time in creating healthy food.
Not stopping there, she created a package of immune-boosting supplements as well. These products are well-sought by many people, especially those who have autoimmune problems.
Another strategy Javara applied was to hire people who’re knowledgable in the online marketplace since last April, as Mrs. Helianti decided to switch the focus to online markets. Ever since then, online sales had gone up 400%. Combined, it contributed to 30% of total Javara sales during the crisis.
Mrs. Helianti worked as a private consultant for international banks’ projects as well as the United Nations Development Programme before starting Javara. During her travel to various places, she came across farmers who managed to farm and keep traditional produces that almost went extinct. She dreamed of helping them get their products to the public with Javara.
She repacked the produces to make them last longer and look more attractive. Sadly, it turns out that their products are not really favorable to the locals. Mrs. Helianti then took the initiative to test the market abroad, where they were selling like hotcakes. Only during the last 3 years that locals started to be interested in Javara’s products, after Indonesian people’s awareness of healthy foods rose. Two years ago, the international market dominated total sales at 80%. Last year, however, the domestic market took the majority by contributing 65% of total sales.
Mrs. Helianti’s dreams weren’t just about helping farmers get their products sold. She also wants these farmers to have younger generations who’re interested in the local produces. Ironically, Indonesia is currently facing yearly farmer reduction, where every year, as many as 500,000 farmers quit. This drove Mrs. Helianti to create Sekolah Seniman Pangan, attended by the farmer’s children, fishermen, and Orang Rimba people. Through these schools, she educated these children to help make Indonesia’s produces known internationally.
“Saya ingin anak muda melihat bahwa profesi petani itu seksi dan rural business is the new start up,”“I want young generations to see farmer’s job as a sexy job and rural business is the new start up,”
Source : Tempo
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