NPO supported by JP Morgan promoting Japanese SME activities in Indonesia


This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.

Image credit: Wassha

Technological innovations are taking place the world over, improving lives of innumerable people. Items such as solar power generation systems for clean power, water purifiers for potable water supply and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for replacement of hazardous kerosene lamps are good examples.

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There are however many emerging economies still unable to make use of these basic amenities of life, mainly due to lack of the “last mile” portions in the networks. If connected the information lifelines can enhance such useful products’ benefits. The lack of training regarding said technologies also hampers utilization.

Inside Kopernik’s Tech Kiosk in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Photo by Masaru Ikeda (January, 2016)

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Kopernik seeks to test and avail affordable life-saving technologies to nations in need. It was founded in 2010 by two former United Nations employees who were motivated due to the fact that these innovations were not being widely adopted enough to bring about a positive impact.

Kopernik has differing thrusts worldwide, each of which plays a distinct role in realizing the shared mission of reducing poverty through distribution of technologies. The organization’s namesake, the Polish scientist Nicolaus Copernicus, changed the way people see the world. Kopernik aims to become a catalyst for progress, like Copernicus.

Inside Kopernik’s Tech Kiosk in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Photo by Masaru Ikeda (January, 2016)

There are four corporations integral to the NGO: a nonprofit (NPO) designated as a 501(c)(3) entity in the US; an incorporated NPO association in Japan; an Indonesian NPO; and, a for-profit joint-stock company in Japan. The global financial group JP Morgan now lends a hand to Tech Kiosks through the US Kopernik NPO’s “Tools for Growth” project.

As an aside, JP Morgan is also supporting an unrelated Japanese NPO which is known as Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Community (ETIC). Based in the Tokyo-Shibuya district, noted for being one of Japan’s premiere startup hubs, ETIC trains young Japanese over 17 of age trying to launch or sustain new business enterprises.

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The coverage here focuses on the first of three workshops this fall in Tokyo, looking to attract technology producers from among Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve current conditions in Indonesia. It is part of Kopernik Japan association’s initiative which was made possible through funding from JP Morgan.

Alison Birch, Head of Human Resources – Japan, JP Morgan
Photo: “Tex” Pomeroy

As Ms. Alison Birch, Managing Director and Head of Human Resources, Japan at JP Morgan said when she launched the inaugural meeting of this program upon representing the sponsoring firm, all those involved can gain from the transfer of simple, easy-to-use technologies to those nations ready to derive benefits therefrom.

There is a propensity for tech SMEs to be startups, especially those in nations like Japan and other technological powerhouses, that could use a dependable long-term customer base. Meanwhile, there are “Bottom of the Pyramid” (BOP) markets requiring improvements in the environment as well as disaster preparedness, among other needs.

Kopernik CEO Toshi Nakamura
Photo by Hiromi Tengeji, Kopernik

Kopernik CEO Toshi Nakamura followed up on Ms. Birch’s talk, providing exhortations to Japanese tech outfits eager to disseminate their wares around the world to get involved. It was also noted as a method of “teaching those in need to use tools to earn a living, rather than just doling out food to eat, in order to realize sustainability.”

Meanwhile in the long run gratitude from those requiring such means of attaining a better life will be acquired. Thus, the approach suggested by Kopernik helps to bring about a “Win-Win” situation for all stakeholders, while maintaining the dignity and self-respect of those currently in a state of extreme distress.

Photo by Hiromi Tengeji, Kopernik

Gathered at the workshop were Japanese startups ready to provide “social business” in agriculture and seeking to apply IOT sensors for forest fire prevention. Also attending was a firm providing devices and services attempting to reduce/mitigate damages resulting from disastrous incidents in the volcano-dotted Indonesia.

In addition, companies with patented technologies applicable to logistics and such in Indonesia - without producing extra waste while enhancing recycling - took part. Follow-up workshops will be held over the next few months, in hopes of pinpointing solutions which can be transferred abroad from Japan over the coming years.