Affordable Food for Indonesia
Rainer Heufers, Indonesia
Antigua Forum 2016
Rainer Heufers knew what he wanted to do well before he arrived at the Antigua Forum 2016 gathering. As a policy expert and former representative for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Asia, he understood how bad policies hurt good people. As founder of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, he knew what policies most hurt Indonesians, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Rainer pitched a simple message: Over a third of Indonesia’s population of 250 million live on $100 or less per month per family. Spending up to 70 percent of their income on food, they waste $20 per month—a fifth of their household income—on food prices that have been inflated by tariffs and quotas. Eliminating these tariffs and quotas would save these poor and vulnerable families up to $6 billion every year. Rainer asked for help to change this unjust system.
Before he arrived in Antigua, Rainer’s project had already been conceived. Both the need and opportunity were clear.
Help for Rainer came from many directions. It started before he arrived at the gathering, was intense while in Antigua, and continued after he returned home. Rainer’s facilitator continually asked questions that laid out key assumptions and helped him focus. As part of the Antigua Forum process, he pitched his project to the entire group. He watched as participants gravitated to the other projects. Then Ruth Richardson, former minister of finance in New Zealand, sat down at his station. Rainer had hit the jackpot. For the entire morning, he got a one-on-one intensive coaching session on how to develop and execute a reform strategy from one of the world´s most successful free-market reformers.
The help kept coming. Another participant, from a major foundation, brought knowledge about how to structure a reform project within a nonprofit. John Nixon, an accomplished fiscal reformer, pushed Rainer for numbers that convey real human need at the individual or family level (the statistics listed above came out of that conversation). An expert in social media helped Rainer focus on shorter, punchier videos. Barbara Oakley, founder of one of the most popular MOOCs (massive open online course) in the world, gave tips for how to incorporate this powerful tool into the project’s overall strategy. They continued the conversation via e-mail after the event in order to ensure that Rainer took all the right steps going forward.
Rainer is back in Indonesia executing the strategy developed in Antigua. The news is good. A little over half a year after the Antigua Forum, on-going conversations that started at this gathering resulted in a six-figure donation from the John Templeton Foundation to the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies to give this project the backing it needs for research and advocacy. A few months later, the project won the Atlas Network’s 2016 Think Tank Shark Tank competition, with a $25,000 prize that will be used to support the MOOC.
“The Antigua Forum starts accelerating before the event. My team at home really had to step up. There was a big impact even before getting to Antigua. Knowing you have to pitch; that someone will be assigned to work with you; that very experienced people are coming—it applies a lot of pressure to come with a well-defined idea.” – Rainer Heufers, Indonesia