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Wider finance options coming to rural Indonesia

Interview - July 12, 2016

Japan’s J Trust Group is partnering with Thai-based Global Lease to bring its financial services to the large Indonesian market, focusing in particular on expanding financing options for farming communities and rural areas, as well as encouraging clean technologies and environmentally friendly power generation.



You recently announced the partnership between J Trust and Group Lease to create GLFI, which has raised $8 million to invest in the Indonesian market with various financial products, such as leasing solar panels, agricultural machines and electrical appliances. Could you tell us more about this new initiative?

Group Lease (GL) is providing financial leasing to people who want to buy a motorcycle or secondhand car or anything that will enhance their daily lives but they can’t afford at the moment.

The J Trust Group is now expanding its business to Indonesia and GL has developed its business very quickly in Cambodia, with its new digital finance services. This is something they have done by themselves, expanding quickly there into the high-growth and high-profit markets of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. So they know the region very well, responding to needs of the local people. They are also providing, as you know, agriculture equipment to the Cambodian farmers, in rural areas, as well as solar panels, because there is not much green energy in the rural areas of Cambodia as of today. We believe this is a very promising business, as they are really becoming successful in this market and are getting more and more awareness and recognition.

At the same time, J Trust acquired Bank J Trust Indonesia. Our CEO Nobuyoshi Fujisawa and the CEO of GL (Mitsuji Konoshita) both believe strongly that the potential in the Indonesian economy is enormous and full of opportunities for further development in terms of financial services.

So we believe that we can develop a very good business model in Indonesia as well. We acquired Bank J Trust Indonesia, which can raise the funds locally with deposits. GL has been effectively producing this leasing business model in Cambodia and Thailand. The idea is to combine those two to really have an efficient business model.


Joint venture is a different approach for the J Trust Group.  Can you outline what this business model is going to entail?

Absolutely. J Trust evaluates and manages investment opportunities all around Asia and its core strategy is to expand through joint ventures and other growth strategies in order to adapt to a global competitiveness.

Of course, funding is a key factor for a leasing company such as GL, and at the same time Bank J Trust Indonesia needs a very effective business model to expand in Indonesia. This is why establishing such a joint venture with GL is a great way for us to penetrate this market.

The first business model would be to provide finance for farmers, in order for them to purchase agriculture equipment. I have myself been to the rural area of Indonesia to see the market situation in terms of finance, and the requirement from the farmers. We believe that we can develop business very quickly in this area to make their agriculture much more efficient. We hope GL will help us to settle in. At the same time, GL needs our full strength to start the business. We will begin our activities as soon as possible.


We met with President Fujisawa of J Trust and he explained how he had reorganized the structure of the company to be always more effective and making decisions very rapidly, which is among the key growth factors of the company to date. Can you outline how important you believe it is to your expansion and what your future growth expectations are?

GL’s slogan “First, Fast and Forward” fits perfectly with our company and is perfectly aligned with J Trust values as a whole. We believe that business should be done quickly and efficiently and to not waste time on administrative paperwork that takes ages.

It is most important in this area of the world because almost all the big companies are privately owned by one person, one owner. This means that at the top of the economy there is a small number of very affluent people who have complete control and ownership of everything related to doing business, so that is why it is so important to have a good relationship with such owners and to have a strong executive power at the top of our group. The decisions also need to be made very quickly, or you might lose some business opportunities. For example, our President, Mr Fujisawara, can make a decision within a minute. I believe this kind of mindset, which is unusual for Japan, has helped J Trust reach the position it is in today.

For future growth, we are now looking for opportunities in Singapore.


As you mentioned, the focus of your investment in Indonesia will give the whole nation access to loans for motorcycles, farm equipment, and solar panels. One of the main platforms of the last G7 summit involved social responsibility, and combating of climate change. How will GLFI promote clean energy sources such as solar panels to their customers, and how will you make alternative energy more available to those in rural markets?

Our main purpose in providing the solar panels to the 255 million population is to help people have a more productive and convenient life. We literally want to change their lives; that is our main purpose. We can also say that we are using green sources of energy for Indonesia’s development as a whole.

On the other hand, the Indonesian government is going to build lots of coal-fired power plants in the country. The nation is really suffering from a shortage of electricity. 20% of the population does not have access to electricity. We will make solar panels available to local people. The government will start to provide power by producing the energy with higher capacity power plants. But at the end of the day it is clearly not good in terms of environment issues. Of course in Jakarta there is already a lot of air pollution, traffic etc…  In rural areas it is not as bad.

But the difference between Indonesia and Japan is obvious. In Japan we are really conscious about such environmental issues and that is why, as a Japanese company, J Trust wants to help provide green energies. Regarding the motorcycle, for example, we will not provide leasing for new motorcycles, but we will lend money so people can repair their current motorcycle and use it in a more efficient way.

Our business model is not to help increase the numbers of motorcycles; and who knows, we might be bringing some electric motorcycles in the future. There are many Japanese companies developing those products. Some of those companies are even providing electric taxis in the Philippines. Why couldn’t we also provide such clean technologies and finance this type of green motorcycles?