Joining The Dots

Indonesia investment opportunities
Indonesia investment opportunities
Image by Pixabay on Pexels.

Something’s happening in Indonesia. And I for one say it’s something good. Actually it’s not just something, it’s more than one thing; it’s a relaxation on visas and work regulations, tax and amnesties, import duties, property and foreign ownership laws and if you can get past the clutter and confusion thrown out there by commentators hell bent on bringing you bad news you’ll see a bigger picture taking shape. You’ll see that these things are all connected and they’re not just good, they’re very good!

I sat down with Terje H. Nilsen, from Seven Stones Indonesia recently to get his take on the situation and to find out of he too was seeing a bright future. He’s an unashamed supporter of the government’s approach and he aligns the company’s vision with it. “Indonesia is heading in a new direction,” he said. “There have been many initiatives recently which are aimed at making Indonesia an easier place to do business. Hurdles are being removed and the path for future prosperity is being laid. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so positive about our business and where the country is heading.”

President Jokowi has been quoted as complaining in recent times that “we have been shackled by excessive procedures and regulations” and his response has been to proactively break the country free from the chains of a suffocating colonial bureaucracy riddled with corruption as well as the covert control of western dominated agendas, which by the way encourage corruption and all its riddling.

This doesn’t mean Indonesia is anti-western, or protectionist, or particularly high-risk for that matter. Far from it, despite what some observers both here and abroad would like you to think. It doesn’t matter if things are positive, haters still gonna hate. Nilsen doesn’t see these harbingers of doom as a threat, however. “By far the largest challenge for Indonesia in legal terms is the constitution. And that is close to impossible to change,” he explained. “The constitution is very socialist in its intent. We need to understand this means that people are important. They were when it was written in 1945 and they still are today. And bearing in mind it was written at the end of a bloody world war, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a sense of protecting those same people from the outside forces which occupied, tortured and killed. But things have changed since then, obviously. And now, Indonesia is doing more than any other country on the planet to adapt without compromising its core values which means it still puts its people first.”

It’s time to wake up and smell the Java (pun intended).

The world’s fourth most populous nation is rising from its slumber and the rest of us had better take note. The last quarter of 2015 saw the Indonesian government introduce the first of many economic stimulus packages, specifically designed to boost the local economy and encourage more foreign investment.

“Q4 of 2015 saw a 20% increase in foreign investments from the year before,” says Nilsen as if to prove the point. “Let’s be realistic here; things will take time and there will, of course, be adjustments as plans are rolled out but if we focus on the bigger picture it seems that red-tape is actually becoming a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong, even in these optimistic and positive times there are still forms to fill and needs to meet, but every country has these. Indonesia is simply suiting up and getting ready to play.”

Reuters via The Jakarta Globe reported on January 21 that the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) announced plans allowing foreign investors to take bigger stakes in the tourism sector, especially the ownership of golf courses, health spas, convention centres, hotels, travel agencies and full ownership of bars, cafes, restaurants and sports centres. Currently foreign ownership in these areas is capped between 49%-51%.

“This shows just how serious the government is,” comments Nilsen. “They’re genuinely thinking the whole thing through, realizing that tourism is potentially the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner and if done correctly with expertise and initiatives from leaders in the field like HVS it can be integrated and sustainable and good for all stakeholders involved. Jokowi’s team is pushing the boundaries of how far they can go without stepping on the toes of the constitutional court. It’s exciting times!”

And it’s not stopping there. “Rules for foreign investment in the film industry will also be relaxed,” Triawan Munaf, the head of the creative economy agency, told reporters, with cinemas, film production and distribution, and technical services open to all.

“If you start to join the dots the picture President Jokowi is painting is going to be good for us all,” says Nilsen in closing.

We think he’s right!

If you’d like to learn more about investing in Indonesia get in touch with us today through

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.