From Export consultant to Supplier – Understanding the full potential of Trade
When he was an export consultant for the Hinrich Foundation, Ade Wirawan spent his time visiting workshops, discussing effective marketing strategies with manufacturers, and observing artisans in Indonesia create intricate bead- and metalwork. Interviewing at least five suppliers every day, Ade soon understood the challenges that these small enterprises face in the midst of globalization, and how the Foundation’s Developing Country Export Assistance Program could help local companies reach international buyers.
The experience turned out to be the perfect training ground for what he would do four years later. Ade now owns a fashion accessory business in Bali called Bimbika. The company specializes in jewelry made of silver and beads. He is in-charge of coordinating with clients and sourcing raw materials. His wife focuses on designing and production. Ade now starts his day a bit differently. He communicates more with buyers than suppliers. His e-mails are now about customers’ specifications and production orders, but the good communication skills, professionalism and attention to details that he learned from the Foundation are still in place.
“I think of Merle [Hinrich, founder of Global Sources and the Hinrich Foundation]. I want to be like him someday,” Ade says.
Rewards and challenges
Ade finds great satisfaction in becoming a supplier himself and imparting his knowledge about trade to others. “Being in sales makes me happy, every time I get people interested in what I do, and share what I’ve learned and see them have the same passion and desire in their businesses.”
As in all kinds of commerce, however, there are certain challenges. He now has six workers to support and he must think of ways to keep the orders coming in and keeping them employed. “Customers are ordering less because of the impact of the global economic crisis. Bank loans help but, of course, we have to pay interest that reduces our profits.”
Ade remains optimistic, nevertheless. He has talked to enough suppliers and had seen their enterprises progress throughout the years to know that these challenges are inherent to all who are just starting their companies. He knows that in order to survive, he must keep up with marketing trends. “We plan to open accounts in B2B websites, so we can have better chances of getting new customers. We also plan to open a showroom where the buyers can see all our collections and our design capability.”
Keys to success
Having been exposed to the various facets of trade, Ade believes that quality products and excellent customer service are the best ways to gain buyers’ trust. “No matter how much we increase the prices, if the product is worth it, then customers will accept the changes. We should be available to the customers whenever they need us. We should assist them and solve their problems. It’s not just about getting paid for the products, but in how we serve our clients.”
Sound advice from someone who has understood the power of trade to improve lives and promote peace.
About Gusti Made Wirawan (Ade)
About the Author – Victorette Joy Campilan