In Focus
RETAIL BANKING | Frances Gagua, Indonesia

How Indonesia's biggest bank is pushing MSMEs to go international

Bank BRI recorded $33.5m in transaction value from local MSME exports in 2019.

Indonesia’s micro, small, and mid-sized enterprises (MSMEs) employ more than 116.7 million people annually, or 97% of the total national workforce, data from Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency show. Despite this, less than 15% have proper access to financing, according to APF Canada’s 2018 Survey of Entrepreneurs and MSMEs in Indonesia. This presents a large opportunity for local banks to fill, and PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Bank BRI) has risen to meet MSMEs financing needs.

In 2019, Indonesia’s biggest bank by assets recorded US$33.5m in value from local MSMEs exports, or 34% over the original target of US$25m in transaction value. The lender achieved this through its two-pronged growth strategy involving the Rumah Kreatif BUMN programme and the Indonesia Mall programme.

Through the Rumah Kreatif BUMN programme, Bank BRI helps enterprises access capital through the People’s Business Credit. The lender also provides a variety of training, financing, and procurement services to MSMEs. Since its inception, the programme has seen more than 306,000 MSME members sign up.

Meanwhile, Indonesia Mall is focused on bringing retail MSMEs in the international field through e-commerce, thus giving them access to new revenue channels. Through the programme, Bank BRI provides support to vendors by handling shipping and logistics and providing marketing support on major e-commerce platforms, such as Tokopedia, Shopee, Bukalapak, Blanja, Blibli and Qoo10. Around 10,000 MSMEs have signed up for the programme, and these companies’ revenues were reportedly boosted by 40% in 2019, according to Bank BRI.

Asian Banking & Finance caught up with Bank BRI executive vice president Kaspar Situmorang to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of the bank’s newest programmes, the lessons learned due to the recent pandemic outbreak, as well as its future goals.

What programmes has Bank BRI implemented to further bolster financing for MSMEs?
Many MSMEs in Indonesia do not have access to larger customer segments because they simply don’t know how to begin selling their products online. Further, most are not yet included in the formal financial sector, which makes international sales a difficult prospect to pursue in general. One of our signature programmes called Indonesia Mall is an assisted e-commerce initiative that helps local MSMEs go global by participating in mainstream online retail.

Through Indonesia Mall, local MSMEs gain front row access to Bank BRI’s financial products. We give the freedom for them to choose which product fits their segment. Indonesia Mall not only helps small businesses expand their sales channels but it also provides them with education on financial products. As the MSME grows its business via Indonesia Mall, we simultaneously provide them with important tools like Kredit Usaha Rakyat (People’s Business Loan) and we have prepared Rp120 trillion (US$8.4 billion) to help MSMEs to grow through this mechanism. 

How do you ensure that the bank stays ahead of its competition and continues to be an innovative force in microfinancing in Indonesia and in Asia?
As our CEO Mr. Sunarso recently said, “Go smaller, go shorter, go faster.” We are currently preparing digital products for the untapped market of the ultra-micro borrower segment. These are people that we would like to reach, and no other bank is willing to go as low as we are willing to go. Our motivation to cover every segment, including this ultra-micro and micro category, will strengthen Bank BRI’s position in the market.

Last year, Bank BRI recorded a whopping US$33.5m in transaction value from local MSME exports, achieved through your two-pronged strategy approach via the Rumah Kreatif BUMN and the Indonesia Mall programmes. Can you expound on how Bank BRI plans to build upon this success?
Rumah Kreatif BUMN (RKB) was spearheaded by Bank BRI in more than 54 cities across Indonesia. It provides business guidance to MSMEs with a variety of training, financing, and procurement services. It also helps enterprises access capital through what it calls People’s Business Credit. Since its inception, we are still focused on digitalising MSMEs by making sure that multiple initiatives work together. For example, around 10,000 RKB participants have registered to Indonesia Mall. We believe that we can increase transaction value even further by duplicating the success of MSMEs on Indonesia Mall with all RKB participants.

What has Bank BRI done to help MSMEs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic? What lessons have you learned from recent events?
In May, we launched KUR DIGITAL, which lets MSMEs register for a People’s Business Loan online ( With advanced credit scoring that we’ve built with the help of big data algorithms, we are now able to provide fast approvals out of necessity for MSME owners. Through this initiative, we hope we can serve MSMEs more deeply whilst minimising the risk of anyone getting infected or transmitting COVID-19. We are also partnering with leading digital platforms like Tokopedia, Shopee, Grab, and Gojek, which house large numbers of MSMEs. With the help of these partners, we’re able to offer KUR DIGITAL to more potential borrowers than ever before, whilst still maintaining physical distancing.

The pandemic has made Bank BRI increasingly focused on developing its digital banking services. It should come as no surprise that with a sudden need for physical distancing, people have begun to leave conventional banking and switch to digital transactions. From the perspective of our business agenda (and most definitely without discounting the tragedy and widespread hardship the virus has caused), we’ve come to view the pandemic as a sort of blessing in disguise [for digitalisation in banking]. It is serving as a true catalyst for accelerating digital transformation in Indonesian society and this is certainly an opportunity for Bank BRI.

Where does Bank BRI see itself in the next five years?
Bank BRI has developed a transformation blueprint called BRIVolution that essentially shows the bank’s readiness to transform digitally and culturally in order to realise its vision of being the most valuable bank in Southeast Asia and home to the best talent in 2022.

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