Partnership and collaboration vital for entrepreneurs

Asia New Zealand Foundation honorary adviser Helianti Hilman recently spoke about the important role local and global collaboration plays in the world of entrepreneurship at Festival for the Future 2020, an online digital summit aimed at inspiring young people to follow their dreams and change the world.
Helianti Hilman

Hilman: “...having an understanding of the global issues and global market helps us with fine tuning what we do, how we do it, how we deliver it, how to make it more relevant to our own market and stakeholders.”

Hilman is founder and CEO of Javara Indonesia, a business that works alongside Indonesian farmers to encourage indigenous food cultivation and biodiversity so that traditions are preserved, forgotten food is cultivated, and indigenous populations earn fair money for their knowledge and produce.

She spoke on a panel alongside social entrepreneurs Shay Wright, co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka, and Brianne West, founder of Ethique. The talk was moderated by senior economist at Infometrics Brad Olsen, who is also a Foundation Leadership Network member.

The panel considered the question, “How can leadership and innovation create a fairer and more inclusive future?”

Hilman shared her own experiences developing a social enterprise to highlight how vital international collaboration is to entrepreneurship in her home country of Indonesia.

“It’s very important for us to have global collaboration and partnership because it opens doors to learn about different projects, approaches, lessons learned and narratives,” she said.

“...having an understanding of the global issues and the global markets helps us with fine tuning what we do, how we do it, how we deliver it, how to make it more relevant to our own market and stakeholders.”


Helianti Hilman, founder and CEO of Javara Indonesia, speaks at Festival for the Future 2020, a completely online digital summit.

She said as a social enterprise Javara face many obstacles that less socially conscious business usually do not encounter. Winning the trust and confidence of her suppliers being one of them.

“In our case we are dealing with communities that are very vulnerable and basically have a lot of traumatic issues in the past – issues of trusting people or of trusting collaborations that fail or take advantage. So we have to show them immediately what they will be able to get out of it.”

Before Hilman founded Javara she was an international property rights lawyer, a role in which she provided pro bono legal advice to indigenous farmers. It was through this work that the idea for Javara was born.

"In Indonesia, we are losing over 500,000 farmers every year... a big number and it will affect our food nutrition, sustainability, supply and things like that if there is no system change to that loss," she said.

She said connecting with like-minded business internationally helps develop markets and encourages collaboration.

“Having international collaborations and having our farmers and producers exposed to the international stage is very important to help us build that kind of confidence.

“But I think most of all global partnerships and global collaborations...basically means that our journey is not a lonely one.”

Hilman says with climate change beginning to impact crops around the world future proofing Indonesia's food supply by protecting biodiversity and endemic plants is critical.

“I think this [biodiversity] is a great asset for Indonesia, not only for the farmers themselves…; with climate change happening the crops they have are pretty much designed for that ecology and have a resilience.”

Helianti's connection to the Foundation began in 2017 when she visited New Zealand alongside a group of Southeast Asian social entrepreneurs as part of the Foundation's ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative. She was appointed an Asia Honorary Adviser in 2019.

About Festival for the Future

Festival for the Future is one of New Zealand's premiere events for young people. It brings together people from all different ages and walks of life to discuss how we create a brighter future. 

The festival was founded in 2011 and is usually held in person - for the last few years on Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington waterfront - but this year moved to a digital summit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Foundation was a partner in delivering the online Festival for the Future in July this year and sponsored Hilman and Artist and Leadership Network member Alice Canton to take part in panel discussions.

Thirty Leadership Network members attended the digital summit. The Foundation ran six workshops for festival-goers with help and input from our ASEAN young business leaders and our Leadership Network.