Tourists gone, Bali’s young entrepreneurs eye sustainable future

Young people on Indonesia’s famous resort island are finding new ways to make ends meet after the collapse of tourism.

When Made Yogantara lost his job after COVID-19 sank Bali’s tourism industry, he had to get creative to take care of his family.

Made, who worked at a popular tourist restaurant, enlisted the help of his uncle – a lecturer in agriculture – and turned a vacant lot owned by his family into a small farm. Nearly two years later, the 26-year-old former bartender is selling organic fruits and vegetables online and at the site.

Before the pandemic hit, Made never thought of venturing outside of hospitality, which in normal times would experience a year-end rush that allowed workers to double or triple their monthly wage. Like many of his peers, he saw few other opportunities for young people on Indonesia’s popular resort island.

“But now young people in Bali will really need to explore. We see and experience it ourselves that we can’t rely too much on tourism,” Made, who was furloughed for seven months before being let go, told Al Jazeera.

The collapse has left young people, in particular, seeking out new ways to make ends meet, according to Irma Sitompul, the co-founder of the Pratisara Bumi Foundation, which runs a nine-month business incubator called INKURI for youth on the island.

Irma, whose nonprofit organisation helps communities set up businesses that prioritise sustainable practices, said the pandemic had inspired many young people to think about starting a small business at home.

Now at its second phase, the incubator is focusing on 23 entrepreneurial ideas, nearly half of which centre around agro-food businesses. Less than one-third are related to tourism.

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