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M. Rafi remembers when not many people understood his decision to leave his stable job of 15 years at PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), part of APRIL Group.

Many of his colleagues at the time called him ‘stupid’ for leaving and choosing to start his own business.

“I was in a comfortable position as a supervisor and making a good income. So it was understandable that they saw me as crazy then,” Rafi, 42, said.

Born and raised on the banks of the Kampar River in Pelalawan, Riau in Indonesia, Rafi never imagined being the success he is today.

Having always harboured the dream of being a businessman, Rafi decided to quit his job to pursue it in 2014 when he spied a business opportunity as RAPP was planning to develop its third paper factory.

Thinking that venturing into labour supply would be a good idea, Rafi used his savings to establish a business named ‘PT Riau Dua Berlian’, which would provide outsourcing services.

However, starting a business was not as easy as Rafi thought it would be. Demand was lower than he had anticipated, and his lack of business experience led to cash flow problems.

As a result, Rafi used up his savings of almost 15 years to cover the company’s operating costs – but that soon ran out and he was forced to shut his business after just four months.

“I was lucky because my wife and son were supportive the whole way,” he said.

But, Rafi was able to salvage his business, thanks to RAPP and its community and entrepreneurship program.

Apart from soliciting his business services, the company provided Rafi with business management training and guidance on how to obtain bank loans.

“Initially, my company supplied four employees to RAPP. Now, I have 90 people working for them,” he said.

“We are professional and work according to the company’s procedures so that we can continue to retain RAPP’s trust,” Rafi added.

RAPP SMEs Program Officer Syafiedy said that Rafi has proven to be an asset as a service provider to RAPP.

“His company complies with all regulations and that is a main factor which makes his company stand out from the others,” Syafiedy said.

RAPP continues to provide support to Rafi’s business, such as training on safety regulations.

As of early 2018, PT Riau Dua Berlian has been able to generate IDR 2.4 billion in revenue, earning a profit of up to IDR 480 million per year.

To Rafi, however, being able to help locals to get decent jobs and income with his company is more fulfilling.

“Most of them are locals who have just graduated from school and come to me for a job – it makes me feel good to be able to help them,” Rafi said.

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