Labor problems in Indonesia have its own complexity. The number of labors always grows in line with population growth rate which is increasing every year. However, this is not followed by adequate employment. Most of the business sectors that absorb labor are located in big cities. The lack of job opportunities in small towns encourages many people especially women to seek employment abroad as maids.
Harfam as Teak Afforestation company based in Surabaya chose a small city like Bondowoso to be the place to develop the business. The presence of Harfam in this small city has provided many job opportunities for the surrounding communities. Mrs Halim (35 yo), villager of Maskuning, was previously working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 20 months as a housekeeper. Now, Mrs. Halim does not want to work abroad anymore and chooses to work in Harfam. Not having to work abroad anymore makes her feel happy. “Working here means being closer to my family. My children don’t want me to work abroad anymore” she said.
Mrs Halim has been working in Harfam for 3 years. Her usual job is cleaning the grass and reeds and giving manure on the teak tress. She works until midday. “I am happy to work here because it’s close to my home and I have many friends here. I want to continue working here. I don’t want to be maid anymore.” she explained when Harfam marketing communication team inquired about her feeling.
Another unsolved problem is urbanization. The developments focused on big cities are the main reason why there are many local residents who move to the big cities. Big cities, especially Jakarta and surrounding buffer areas, are the main attraction for urbanization. People from small towns in Java and outside Java consider Jakarta and surrounding buffer areas the perfect location to find a job. In fact, the urbanization has caused some new problems, including the increased density of the big cities which causes traffic jam and the emergence of slums.
Actually, government has given autonomy policy to promote development and foster employment in small towns. However, it does not have any significant impact. It is proven by the number of people who choose to leave their hometown and seek job elsewhere, both domestically and abroad. If it keeps on going, every local government must realize that development policies and programs carried out so far would have to be totally evaluated because it is incapable in creating new centers of economic growth. Entrepreneurs are also expected to take an active role to provide job opportunities in towns and explore the unique potential in each area to further address the problem of urbanization. The efforts are also expected to pull its citizens who are already out of town or overseas to work back in their own towns.
Bondowoso, for instance, has potentials in agricultural and forestry. With its fertile soil conditions and supporting climate, this sector can be optimally developed for the welfare of society. Harfam see this potential as a great opportunity to develop Harfam Teak Plantation. It certainly provides a lot of job opportunities for the surrounding communities. Harfam becomes the solution for those who seek job without requiring them to work overseas or in the big cities.
The main goal of business is to raise capital and gain profit, but it does not mean that we should override other things like the social aspects because a noble business is a business that can provide many benefits, not only for the owner/ entrepreneur, but also for the surrounding community.