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The British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia: Focus on Sustaining the Core Business

CHAMBER UPDATES | 5 October 2020
Photo courtesy of The British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia/NOW!JAKARTA


Since March, all manner of organizations have been challenged to work out how to sustain their core businesses while under great immediate transformational distress. The same has been very true for the British Chambers of Commerce in Indonesia (BritCham).

“Most chambers of commerce are set up as ‘not-for-profit’ organisations. Whilst they are generally managed with great prudence and are stable, they also do not have deep pockets and therefore will inevitably struggle when revenue streams are challenged,” asserted Chris Wren, Executive Director of BritCham when interviewed recently.

In fact, BritCham has earned its reputation as being “the most active foreign Chamber in Indonesia” as a result of an average of some 60 events per year. From March 15, it was clear that these events could not happen. So how did BritCham react to this potentially existence-threatening phenomenon?

“We are a membership organisation. Our driver is always to provide a range of platforms for our membership to tap into, platforms relevant to their businesses and teams at many different levels. We have been building this relevance through events and our commercial model has been fairly dependent on the volume, topicality and prestige of these events”.

BritCham’s events are indeed diverse. Looking at their website,, visitors can see high profile speaker events, Ministers, Governors, leading executives, specialist expertise. There are focused interest group events such as from the Professional Women’s Group, Young Professionals & Entreprenuers Group, the Environmental and Inspiration Series, events to promote thinking around sales and marketing, human resource challenges and trade-related events, not just in Jakarta but around the country.

“BritCham has a very experienced Board made up of local and international senior executives representing the spectrum of sectors. Together with our Executive Office team, we quickly tapped into our deep networks. This enabled us to transform and offer the same diversity in content and in expertise, but using digital platforms. Our first webinar was in April. Since then we have put on 25 webinars, some of which have been ground-breaking. On average, the footfall has been more than double physical events. Most importantly, sponsors have accepted these offerings as at least parallel value to our physical events”.

Chris Wren, Executive Director of BritCham.

So BritCham quickly moved to digital platforms. Interestingly, they avoided content that was directly about COVID-19 and the pandemic, instead of addressing issues raised because of the pandemic and in the Indonesian context.

“We needed to avoid duplication of data that was out there from multiple sources. Instead we set about the type of content that offered possible solutions to the real challenges being faced, be they working from home, risk management, relationship management, IT and digital transformation. We also kept our gaze forwards to issues that would prevail post-pandemic, like sustainability, the environment , climate change, human resource (re) development and the general challenge of winning to acquire business.”

In fact, during this time, BritCham has innovated to add new opportunities for its members to show-case expertise and to network among like-minded groups through the establishment of Member Focus Groups - Climate Change, Smart Cities and Human Capital & Education.

“Our Board wanted us to build on increased intensity of member engagement by developing options relevant across sectors. The sign-ups have exceeded expectations. Non-members have become members to participate. These groups clearly have their own very specific value proposition.”

When prompted by the “what now” and “what next” question, Chris continued and closed by stating that “BritCham would continue to evaluate what our members expect and need from us. We will return to physical events when safe and prudent to do so, not before. We may experiment with hybrid options to keep our new international audiences plugged in. Most of all, our Board and Executive Office will remain diligent and agile to anticipate within our changing environment. For the benefit of all members who have shared their appreciation of our responsiveness and innovation in difficult times, we will maintain and build on that reputation of being the most active foreign Chamber in Indonesia”.

These are some of BritCham’s latest events and activities, with more engaging and informative events being planned in the near future.

BritCham Professional Women’s Group Webinar – Consumer Behavior in the “New Normal” – 2 July

“It’s about maximising your potential and minimising your risk. When we talk about data, it is to be able to understand your businesses. It is the means of how data is being captured and where you can get it, data being available and more accesible, I think that’s the game changing space right now”. (Ashran Ghazi - CEO of Dattel Asia, on the relevance of data in the new normal)


Venu Madhav (General Manager of Kantar Worldpanel, Indonesia), Mia Tricahyani (Director of Consumer Panel Service of Nielsen) and Ashran Ghazi (CEO of Dattel Asia).

Farewell Talk with HE Dr. Rizal Sukma – 21 July

“It is important to work with cities instead of only with the central government. […] Working directly with cities really gives us more concrete areas of operation and more … things that we can do.” (Pak Rizal, on the political dynamics faced during his term in the UK).


HE Dr. Rizal Sukma (Ambassador of Indonesia to the UK), Ainsley Mann and Chris Wren.

Corporate Climate Change Commitments: A Global Leadership Perspective – 27 July

“We have a very longstanding commitment to sustainable business, (and the reason for that is our founders held a belief that is now deeply embedded in the company that) when our brands, and we as a company tackle social and environmental issues as we do our business, we become a better, stronger business.” (Unilever CEO Alan Jope, on Unilever’s commitments to environmental sustainability).


Alan Jope (CEO of Unilever PLC) and David Ingram (Chief Procurement Officer at Unilever PLC).