During his academic exchange abroad (2018-2019) in Jakarta (Indonesia), Guillaume Pigeon, a student in the Bachelor Cycle of the Grande Ecole Program at IÉSEG, decided to participate in a social entrepreneurship project with Indonesian collaborators. Their project, Semandtik, is a French-Indonesian social start-up, offering accessories and interior decoration textiles made out of Indonesian Batik in the east of the Island of Java by local artisans. We recently interviewed Guillaume, who describes his experience and the next steps of this project.
Soon after my arrival in Indonesia in 2018, I met Firman, the co-founder of Semandtik. He was born and raised in a village in the Tuban region, to the east of the Island of Java (Indonesia) and is currently a student in Jakarta. In his village, many women continue the tradition of Javanese Batik, a traditional technique to make textiles, consisting of drawing designs, related to beliefs, in wax before dying the fabric. (UNESCO recognizes this expertise on its lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage).
In spite of all of this, the rare business opportunities generally come from wholesalers who buy at very low prices to resell cloth in town: the remuneration of these artisans is often inequitable. The other consequence of this situation is the aging of the artisans: young people are not interested in this type of trade, seeing as it is impossible to make a decent living. For these reasons, Firman decided to create Semandtik over a year ago to offer new business horizons.
As soon as I started working on this project, we looked to expand this logic of equitable commerce with the implementation of a transparent and engaging communication strategy, impact and CSR indicators, along with an expansion policy regarding artisans’ remuneration. Similarly, we have created a more modern collection: the purpose of the project is also to rejuvenate the Indonesian Batik community. When I come back to France in June, I will be in charge of the brand development.
We launched a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule, which finished on May 19th 2019. This should allow for the product launch on the French market.
After this, we will open our permanent sales on Etsy (e-commerce platform in artisanal products) at the beginning of June, then on our website the same month. Similarly, we would like for our products to be available in some specialized boutiques between now and Christmas 2019.
My journey at IÉSEG has only just started, seeing as I am in my second year right now. That being said, the rigor of the IÉSEG program has encouraged me to try new things. Similarly, the opportunity to do an academic exchange abroad at my young age has given me the confidence and the opportunity to start a project that I never would have imagined doing before.