JAKARTA — When Deddy Kurnianto* jumps on his Yamaha M3 125 every morning, pondering how his day’s work will add to Indonesia’s gross domestic product is probably the last thing on his mind. “I try to pick up as many passengers as possible, and avoid the traffic jam,” he said, signing off with a forbearing chuckle about Jakarta’s notorious congestion. In the year since he started driving for Go-Jek, a local ride-hailing service operated via smartphone application, Kurnianto has seen his income rise by “about 30%.” App-based businesses such as Go-Jek and rivals Grab and Uber operate at the intersection of the “real” or “traditional” economy and its “digital” counterpart, undercutting or disrupting existing taxi firms.
TANJUNG GUSTO, Indonesia — The fast pace of development in Indonesia’s cities has spawned many a technology-based startup in the last few years, from ride-hailing apps to online shopping giants to touchscreen food delivery services. These are the early fruits of a tech economy the government hopes will be worth $130 billion by 2020. For many in remote parts of the far-flung archipelago, where standards of living are much lower than in the cities of Java and Sumatra, startups are more homespun and their ambitions are modest. Yet across the gamut of would-be entrepreneurs, from rural remote villages canopied by palm trees to thronged vast cities, there are common challenges: from raising cash, to nudging government into necessary reforms, managing complicated logistics and fending off jealous competitors, many of the hurdles are identical and boil down to the scramble for funding sources and government backing.