A pivotal moment in the journey of the United Nations Joint Programme 'Accelerating SDGs Investment in Indonesia' (ASSIST) as it marked a significant milestone with a two-day site visit on January 30th and 31st, 2024. This collaborative initiative, generously funded by the Joint SDG Fund, brought together key stakeholders from various participating UN agencies – including UNDP, UNIDO, UNEP, and UNICEF – under the expert coordination of the UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia.
During the visit, participants gained invaluable insights into the tangible benefits of the Joint Programme for local SMEs in the agrifood sector and startups in the blue sector. These initiatives have unlocked a wealth of opportunities for community development, particularly by empowering the region's youth and fostering sustainable growth.
Ms. Valerie Julliand, the UN Resident Coordinator, took the opportunity to express heartfelt appreciation for the steadfast support and fruitful collaboration extended by the Government of Indonesia. She underscored the pivotal role played by the NTB Government in driving the successful implementation of ASSIST initiatives. Through unwavering support, these initiatives have made a profound impact on local businesses, with over 1,000 entrepreneurs, including women-led and youth-led MSMEs and startups, benefiting from vital assistance. The ripple effects of this support have reverberated throughout local communities, leading to transformative changes and fostering a brighter future for all.
She stated, “The program has not only provided tailored capacity-building initiatives to help enterprises expand but has also opened up increased access to financing opportunities aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, the programme's assistance in navigating market entry has played a pivotal role in the remarkable growth of these SMEs and start-ups.”
The variety of support from JP ASSIST for West Nusa Tenggara
The collaborative technical assistance provided by UNIDO and UNEP has ensured the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and a shift towards more circular and lower-input methods. The SME's learning center, a key aspect of its operations, serves as a central hub for over 200 farmer communities and villagers, who adopt environmentally sound and resource efficient farming techniques, laying an important foundation for the change of local paradigm leading to increased productivity, marketability and competitiveness, and ultimately - sustainable access to finance.
As demonstrated during the field visit to UD. Sasak Tani, one of the beneficiary SMEs in the agrifood sector has emerged as a catalyst for positive change in local communities. Beyond the fields, the SME's influence extends to the educational domain. Through active collaboration with schools to incorporate sustainable agriculture topics into the curriculum of the "Merdeka Belajar" initiative, the SME is empowering local school children with knowledge that will be beneficial for years to come. This holistic approach is a key component of a broader strategy to instill environmentally conscious mindsets among young people grounded in the understanding of the crucial role that responsible agriculture plays in shaping a sustainable future.
During the second site visit, four alumni enterprises of the Blue Finance Accelerator (BFA) program - a collaborative initiative launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in partnership with the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs and Instellar Indonesia- namely Conplas, Karya Pesisir, Lamops and Oganic. Since graduating from BFA, these ventures have forged partnerships with each other to expand operations and reach a wider customer base in Lombok. Lamops for instance, is a start-up that focusses on upcycling pearl waste. After graduating from BFA, they partnered with three pearl farms and managed to reduce 1 ton of pearl waste in NTB province, 100 people joined their workshops, and 10% of their trainees' secured jobs as artisans.
Going beyond traditional support, the BFA initiative empowers start-ups and SMEs to access impactful investment opportunities through UNDP's Impact Venture Accelerator (IVA) programs. The BFA focuses on capacity-building and support mechanisms for businesses engaged in blue sectors, such as sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, marine debris waste management, plastic pollution reduction, and climate change mitigation or adaptation. Participants received a tailored curriculum covering business, innovation, impact measurement and management, gender perspectives, and themes related to the blue economy, complemented by individual mentoring, consulting, and support from advisory teams to ensure sustained business growth.
The visit continued with an interaction with students from Madrasah Ibtidaiyah Negeri 4 who are recipients of the Program Indonesia Pintar, which is financed by the SDG Bond that the JP supported. To raise awareness on the SDGs, the visit concluded with an SDG Talk show at Madrasah Aliyah Negeri 1 which was attended by more than 100 students and teachers.
These interactions showcased the dynamic impact of the ASSIST JP on youth-led sustainability and green transition initiatives, as young people assume a vital role in advocating for the adoption of sustainable practices across sectors. The JP's comprehensive approach extends beyond mere technical interventions, encompassing educational institutions, creating sustainable economic ecosystems that uplift youth, and contributing to the broader landscape of community and economic development in West Nusa Tenggara and beyond.
Representing the Acting Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, Mr. Ibnu Salim, the Regional Secretary, expressed appreciation for the transformative impact of the ASSIST JP on local communities. He conveyed, "The invaluable support from the United Nations within the ASSIST Joint Programme has significantly benefited the entrepreneurial community across diverse sectors in West Nusa Tenggara by providing needs-driven guidance towards improved productivity, competitiveness and wider access to local and international markets. The project, while fostering local expertise in such topics as sustainability, circular economy, resource efficiency, productivity and market access, helps improve financial situation of beneficiary SMEs, making them resilient in the long run. The program offers immense social and economic benefits for the province, and we anticipate continued collaboration in the future”.
Originally published by UN Indonesia
The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.