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Javara Indonesia: How Championing Farmers & Sustainability Made Them A Successful Global Food Brand

Updated: May 18, 2022

We believe it is the women that paved the way for us who have brought our brand to life. At Plenty, we find that the stories of female entrepreneurs - leading big or small businesses - often inspire us deeply, and we love delving deeper to find out what makes these businesses the successes they are.

Therefore, in the past few months, we highlight other female-led businesses who have shown resilience in their struggles and successes. The #PlentytoHighlight series aims to highlight those who overcome challenges to create impact within their industries and community. One of our very favourite stories is of Ibu Helianti Hilman, founder of Javara Indigenous Indonesia.

As F&B players cater to the organic and all-natural trend amid the pandemic, Javara Indigenous Indonesia has long been sustaining forgotten food biodiversity with their organic artisanal food products since 2008.

Javara is a leading artisanal food brand, one with an untraditional route to success amongst most local brands. Ibu Heli herself is an award-winning social entrepreneur; named as Asia Social Entrepreneur of The Year for her work, at the World Economic Forum in 2015. Today, Javara collaborates with more than 52,000 farmers and is focused on the export market with 85 per cent of its products exported, mostly to Australia, Europe, and the United States. We dive a little deeper into their business story, and how it’s grown to the success it is today.

A Brand Narrative That Matters

Javara's brand purpose is concisely told in all aspects of their brand from their visual identity to their products. The name Javara itself – means champion in Sanskrit – favours the true 'champion' who are tirelessly saving the forgotten food biodiversity, the farmers.

We often identify that the greatest brand stories are already present within an organisation’s values, with the companies we work with. 'To make a difference so that lives are enriched’ - is one of our very favourite narratives from one of our clients.

Though some brands find it hard to exhibit their ‘true north’, time and time again we find brands that truly lives and effortlessly showcase the soul of their business. Javara is one of these brands that live their purpose.

Javara works hand-in-hand with local indigenous farmers to set a deeper meaning for them not just as the producers but the story behind their products. In a recent article shared by Javara, The Heritage Rice, one of Javara’s star products and even made as a cultural souvenir by the Indonesian government for gifts, is a nod to support and popularize the heirloom rice that farmers are cultivating from disappearance. Moved by the farmers who wished to save authentic Indonesian heirloom rice, Ibu Helianti worked closely with them to ensure their products achieved international quality and the right certification, eventually, this Indonesian heritage is still consumed globally until this day.

Staying consistently “on-brand” can be a challenge for many businesses. What we advocate is to have brand values that are true to your purpose and mission for bringing the business to life. It makes communication authentic, heartfelt and more consistent when you are living the mission of your business. Like, in a recent campaign posted on their Instagram, @JavaraIndonesia, a series of farmers who are partners of Javara shares that the brand supports them through a series of coaching in terms of food production, creating an ethical workplace to prioritize the farmer's well-being and preservation of the environment.

Ethical and Sustainable Business Practices

Identifying as a sustainable business requires more than describing products as eco-friendly or ethically produced, especially for Javara who has sustainability at the heart of its brand ethos, even before the word itself became a rising buzzword among brands globally.

Traceability is a huge aspect of implementing sustainable processes within a sustainable business. Javara does not shy away with sharing from who and where their product's ingredients are sourced. Not to mention, acknowledging the indigenous communities and farmers who are the beneficiaries of the rich food biodiversity heritage.

Their sustainable practices and products encourage the consumers themselves to take responsibility for what they eat, to seek healthy nutritious food that is ethical and sustainable for the benefit of their health and the environment.

Social Impact

In 2017, Javara's Founder and Chairperson Ibu Helianti Hilman launched Sekolah Seniman Pangan, an entrepreneurial learning facility to empower the livelihood of the rural community and highlight local food heritage.

Ibu Heli has appeared in a variety of media appearances for her efforts towards Javara's social impact. In addition to being selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Asia Social Entrepreneur of the Year, organizations like Forbes Indonesia, World Intellectual Property Organization, and Obama Foundation have picked up on Javara’s purposeful work and featured them on case studies to major conferences. Javara’s investment towards this cause has not only increased the brand’s awareness but has also drawn the attention of media.

Embracing your social impact as your business core values can be a hard commitment, but Javara’s experience shows that it has led them to nothing but tremendous success of growth and impactful partnerships with both government and non-governmental organizations.

Javara designed their social impact according to the need and challenges faced by the food producer community. But executing their social impact was simply a way to further tell the story behind the brand and the products; to bring transformative societal change.

Javara's brand story works because it addresses a cause and the impact they intend to make - preserving the food biodiversity by providing a positive impact on food producers and farmers. Their brand is built on its core values, but most importantly, a story that acknowledges the rich food heritage that is being forgotten and the farmers who are the backbone of the food supply chain.

To talk about building your brand and telling your story, get in touch.

Photos courtesy of Javara Indigenous Indonesia.

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