The Jakarta Post
The government plans to promote items produced by inmates through e-commerce platforms to help the prisoners adjust back to regular life and earn a living once they are released from prison.
Business empowerment for convicts has been a recurring program run by the Law and Human Rights Ministry for the last seven years, with support from the Industry Ministry.
However, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said this would be the first year that the government would initiate partnerships with e-commerce platforms. In previous years, the products were only marketed through exhibitions or at certain shops.
“Online marketplaces have become an important basis in advancing local industries as well as letting global markets get a taste of our products,” Airlangga said in his speech at the opening of the seventh inmates products exhibition at his office.
The products range from home decor, arts and crafts, food and beverages as well as garments. The products, he said, were not mass-produced since the program focused on helping the inmates gain skills rather than profit.
Meanwhile, online marketing will be done through the Industry Ministry’s digital database for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), called e-Smart IKM, which has been integrated with various e-commerce platforms such as Bukalapak, Tokopedia, Shopee, Blibli.com and Blanja.com.
In 2018, nearly 6,000 SMEs participated in the e-Smart IKM platform with total revenue of Rp 2.37 billion (US$167,263). Most of the entrepreneurs are in the food and beverage sector, followed by metal processing and fashion.
“What we are supporting here is a ‘graduation’ program for these inmates so once they get out of prison, they will be equipped with entrepreneurial skills and have their own careers,” he said, adding that the inmates would help realize the ministry’s target of assisting 10,000 SMEs through e-Smart IKM by 2019.
The inmates will not receive incentives for producing the goods but Airlangga said the government had provided them with all the required materials and equipment free of charge, in addition to free marketing and covered exhibition fees.
Airlangga claimed that several former inmates who participated in the program had continued to forge their skills after they completed their sentences, having gone onto to employing people and exporting their goods.
According to Industry Ministry’s Small and Medium Industries Directorate General, 350 former inmates had benefited from the program between 2013 and 2018.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who inaugurated the exhibition, lauded the efforts to empower the inmates.
“As citizens of this country, these inmates are still entitled to [entrepreneurial] coaching so they can face a good future once they have served their sentences,” Kalla said. “Further, these inmates could also make their time in prison useful [by learning skills].”
By equipping inmates with skills, Kalla said he hoped they would not commit anymore crimes and become law abiding citizens, thus changing societal perceptions of former convicts.
Speaking on the same occasion, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly said the business empowerment program was in line with his office’s mission to revitalize inmate coaching programs.
“This exhibition is proof of the government’s efforts to empower inmates with skills to compete in the global market,” said Yasonna.