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Article written by: Mr. Yohanes Rumpak, CEO of KELING KUMANG GROUP  

Development Innovation is inevitable this day and age. Keling Kumang Group (KKG), encouraged by a presentation of Dr. Kiriwandeniya in February 2017, decided to undertake an exchange program with SANASA in September 2017 following the Open Forum of the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU). The decision was triggered by the fact that SANASA has 13 business units under its fold, an innovative   way of sustaining its co-operative development ideology. That augers well for KKG which has also expanded its credit union entity into many other new co-op establishments based on the needs of the real sector in rural West Kalimantan, hence the term Keling Kumang Group.  Apart from a few delegates from the Keling Kumang Credit Union who participated in ACCU’s Forum, the exchange mission was enriched by young co-operators from KKG, the Millennials, facilitated and led by Robby Tulus. 


The group was composed of some older generation such as Michael, Munaldus, Wiratmoko, and Robby himself, whereas others were mainly young leaders including Yohanes, Sopian, Valentinus, Hera, Musa, Adilbertus, Itoi Thomas Aquino, Bonny Bulang, Iwan F Erlianto, and Korintus. Robby, as cofounder and pioneer of the credit union movement in Indonesia, has spearheaded viable “spin-offs” of credit unions into other co-op sectors in Indonesia. As a former Regional Director of ICA for Asia Pacific, Robby also saw the need for a holistic approach to development by building various co-op sectors to fulfil the need of basic communities in rural areas.


Unlike exchange visits that are sponsored from outside, the entire activity was self-financed. KKG, therefore, has its own and inherent obligation to learn substantively from the exchanges.  A detailed exposure was given to imbibe SANASA’s Insurance and Banking business entities, in addition to visiting SANASA Engineering, SANASA International, the Supply Chain Management Project on micro-finance development, culminating in field visits to primary Thrift and Credit Societies in various parts of Sri Lanka. The latter was quite interesting as thrift and credit societies in Sri Lanka were formed as cohesive people-based organizations in villages of relatively small common bonds, in contrast to Keling Kumang credit union which has over 160,000 members as one primary credit union, but with service-centers all over the province that are formed as cohesive clusters. All in all, both approaches are conducive to maintaining the co-operative ideology in making sure “no one is left behind”. 


On the Insurance front, a special Seminar was conducted at the SANASA Campus, inasmuch as the Credit Union Central Organization (CUCO) of Indonesia has begun the initial steps towards forming the Indonesian Co-op Insurance company based on the SANASA model introduced by Dr. Kiriwandeniya earlier in 2017. A team from CUCO-Indonesia took an active role in the Seminar, composed of Joko Susilo (Chair), Puspo Cahyo (CEO), Joniono (Secretary of the Board), Stefanus Siagian (Education Manager), and Joko Setiono (Mutual Aid Manager). 


KKG recorded important lessons learned which could form a basis for future collaboration with the SANASA Movement:

  • SANASA has a powerful brand, easily recognizable from its color, logo, and tagline. KKG may consider KELING KUMANG as its brand. It’s an imminent homework to complete.
  • SANASA has a strong philosophical/ideological underpinning: People first as against Money First. Each of their business units started from a sincere concern of socio-economic conditions of members and their respective communities; KKG has the same focus, and thus needs to further strengthen its outreach to the vulnerable people at grassroots level;
  • The KELINGKUMANG MOVEMENT needs to augment its units by having more business entities; Inasmuch as Co-operatives are people and member-based, co-ops must remain firm as an ideological entity; however, they need to have and run professional and effective businesses entities as their competitive strength against private rivals.
  • The basic idea of “spinning off” towards new co-operative sectors and business entities has already started at KELING KUMANG GROUP (KKG); Lessons learned from SANASA will accelerate the process for members’ benefit;
  • Relationship with SANASA through its charismatic Chair (Dr. P.A. Kiriwandeniya) and other leaders such as Prof. Lakhsman (Vice Chancellor of SANASA University) will benefit KKG as well, since KKG has already started its Technical High School, an embryo for a future Technical University in Sintang, West Kalimantan. 
  • The Exchange Program has opened new horizons for KKG, not just to reaffirm the significance of co-operative values and viable business entities of SANASA, but also its local wisdom by sharing local food in villages and interacting with satisfied members in the rural areas.




In the final analysis, the Exchange Program was indeed inspirational. There are empowerment tools which KKG could emulate to further strengthen its base among vulnerable communities still left behind.   Development Innovation is a continuum. SANASA and KKG will hold hands together to ensure their holistic approach to development will be innovative and sustainable, and which hopefully will become one of the models able to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.