Visitors check a booth at the Trade Expo Indonesia held at the International Convention and Exhibition in Tangerang, Banten. (Beritasatu Photo/Ruht Semiono)

Indonesia’s B2B Export Startup Lends Helping Hand to SMEs


MARCH 04, 2021

Jakarta. An e-commerce platform focusing on business-to-business export deals has dedicated much of its works to help Indonesian small and medium enterprises reach global audience.

While a vast majority of Indonesian businesses are SMEs, few have managed to secure overseas customers.


“Indonesian exports are largely driven by handful of large corporations and international buying houses,” Ilyas Bhat, founder of cross-border market place, told the Jakarta Globe in a recent interview.

Claiming that his company is the country’s first B2B export startup, Bhat said the platform has been designed to simplify exporting from Indonesia not only to support established Indonesian brands to capture new geographical markets, but also pays special focus to help Indonesian SMEs globalize their products and services.

“There is still very low contribution of Indonesia SME sector towards Indonesian national merchandise export -- merely at 13 percent -- a large promising yet untapped market segment when it comes to cross border e-commerce,” he said.

Most recently, the company assisted a small company in the Central Java capital of Semarang to secure pineapple supply deal with a wholesaler in the United Arab Emirates and even facilitated the maiden shipment.

The company’s research team has identified commodities Indonesia may have advantage over other suppliers and certain markets which are more likely to buy them.

For example, Middle East countries have a strong demand for Indonesian agro commodities and fresh food, the UK has been long known as key importer of Indonesian spices, tea and coffee, while Western Africa intends to buy Indonesian packed food and beverages.

Game Changer
Technology is a game changer in the global trade but export sales from Indonesia continue to go through a “primitive” way involving a lot of offline workflows and middlemen.

“At we have designed and developed dozens of simple tools to use for digital, trade and technology solutions for our Indonesian seller companies to connect with global e-commerce market and increase global visibility, supply chain efficiency and boosting revenues,” he said.

“The advantage we are striving for our Indonesian suppliers is to reduce their supply chain, bringing them in direct touch with international buyers under our Direct to Market strategy so they can export directly in a hassle-free and trusted environment and boost revenues,” Bhat said.

Ilyas Bhat
Ilyas Bhat

The website offers basic knowledge about legal requirements to become exporter, export duties and how to calculate them, and a list of goods prohibited from export sales.

It has nine language choices and currency converter for more convenient use by global audience.

But more importantly, it provides platform for business meeting and “virtual trade show”. Made In Indonesia has arranged meeting between Indonesian suppliers and businessmen from Egypt, the UAE and Qatar, and is planning for a series of conference with buyers from UK, Australia, Vietnam and Western Africa in the near future.

The company has received support from the Cooperatives and SME Ministry and is currently in talks with the Trade Ministry to deepen cooperation with the government, which is struggling to boost international trade surpluses.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy booked $1.96 billion in trade surplus in January, a swing from $640 million deficits in the same month last year albeit slightly lower from $2.1 billion surpluses in December.

However, the positive trend is more attributed to a steeper fall in imports amid Covid-19-related global restrictions -- not due to robust export performance.

“I think the government through various key ministries is trying hard to support exports. But government institutions and structures are complex hence at time can’t keep up with the pace especially in the digital world,” Bhat said. 

“As Indonesian B2B tech startup focusing on democratizing exports, we are fully committed to working with all related ministries to centralize the available supports for export acceleration and connecting Indonesian sellers to cross-border trade.”

Founded last year, the company aims to bring more than 100,000 Indonesian companies with over 1million products to its platform to conduct cross-border and domestic trading “in a trusted and transparent environment” by 2025, Bhat said.

The Bogor-based company is planning to raise up to $10 million to further expand its global reach and enhance the digital infrastructure.