Remarks by Ambassador Blake at East Bali Cashews ACE Celebration at @america, Jakarta
Welcome to @america!
We are here today to celebrate the success of East Bali Cashews and their winning of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence for a small or medium enterprise. They received the award on March 1st in Washington.
So, first let me say congratulations to East Bali Cashews and Aaron Fishman!
I also want to acknowledge KKR and its employees for the support they gave to help EBC finance and grow its business. We are very pleased to have with us tonight KKR’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia Jaka who will make a few remarks to kick off the reception.
A warm welcome as well to our moderator Veronica Colondam, the founder and CEO of YCAB Foundation, and herself a successful social entrepreneur.
A little history about EBC for those of you who don’t know. Aaron Fishman started EBC about five years ago. In this beautiful corner of East Bali, he saw an opportunity for the cashew farmers there to process those nuts right there rather than export the raw cashews and let others get the value added.
In its first year, the company produced 150 tons of cashews and employed 130 local Indonesians.
Then EBC linked up with KKR. KKR’s investment in the company helped EBC to buy more machinery to double its number of peelers and triple the size of its warehouses.
But Secretary of State Kerry chose EBC for the Award for Corporate Excellence not just because of its impressive growth.
Even more important is the way the company works with its employees and the community to support economic development and to improve lives.
EBC now employs more than 350 villagers, mostly women who previously had little opportunity for formal employment.
The company has helped to increase local farmers’ incomes by 20% and to improve the quality of local agricultural production.
EBC has also expanded health care and education opportunities to children in the surrounding villages. Recently, the company opened the region’s first preschool, where 60 of the employees’ children are now getting an early start on their education.
Aaron has said that EBC’s strategic advantage comes from the fact that they partner so closely with the community and with those involved in all aspects of the value chain that leads to the final product, such as the farmers’ education programs, the seed and supply businesses, and the drying centers.
Through this business model, EBC has shown a great ability to innovate, and to innovate not simply for the company’s gain but for the benefit of the communities of East Bali.
I am so happy Aaron, Nyoman and Novi are here today to talk with us about how EBC has achieved its success. I’m hoping they’ll share some of their secrets about how to make contributing to the community an integral part of sustainable business growth.
I know we have in our audience this evening a number of social entrepreneurs, students of entrepreneurship and aspiring entrepreneurs.
I hope that the East Bali Cashews story will be inspiring and educational for you. Please ask our panelists the questions that will help you to chart your own future as a social entrepreneur.
Following the program we will all enjoy a reception sponsored by KKR, which has played an important role in East Bali Cashews’ development.
A special thanks to Steve Okun and his KKR colleagues for collaborating with us on this great event.
We hope the reception will be a great opportunity for you to meet other social entrepreneurs, innovators as well as business leaders who share our view that you can do well by doing good.
Thank you, and enjoy this special evening.