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Wempy Dyocta Koto: Mentoring Indonesia’s Future Leaders

Colours talks to Wempy Dyocta Koto, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and international speaker, who wants to see more Indonesians on the global stage.

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Five years ago, Wempy Dyocta Koto was living a cushy life in London. Koto was at the top of his game, running a thriving business development agency, Wardour and Oxford, of which he is chief executive. Koto had founded the agency in 2010 after 20 years of an exciting global career in advertising, dealing with some of the world’s most valuable brands, such as Microsoft, Samsung, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Sony. Despite all this, Koto decided he was going to return to his homeland: Indonesia.

“My life had been about building and creating the career and the life that I wanted,” says Koto. “And I had all of that. Then, there came a stage in my life where my goals shifted. The term ‘legacy’ became very important to me. What appealed to me was moving back to Indonesia and, finally, doing something for my own country that I could be proud of.”

The world’s fourth most populous nation, Indonesia is often considered a sleeping giant. The country is brimming with potential, due to its abundant natural resources, young population, rapid urbanisation, growing middle class and one of the largest digital markets in the world (73 million Internet users in 2015). McKinsey & Company projects Indonesia will be the world’s seventh largest economy by 2030, overtaking Germany and the United Kingdom. Yet, a recent article in The Guardian notes how Indonesia remains “the biggest invisible thing on the planet”.

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Koto would like to see more Indonesians rise up and be contenders on the global stage. According to Koto, “Entrepreneurs today need to broaden their scope beyond the borders of nations because ideas transcend borders.” Furthermore, in a globalising world, he adds, “It is vital that Indonesia’s future leaders are influenced by global
perspective and wisdoms.”

Through his eponymous business school, Koto has traversed the archipelago, meeting with budding entrepreneurs whose drive and motivation has hit a soft spot in the 40-year-old. “It proves to me where Indonesia is at,” contemplates Koto. “We are so hungry for education, so hungry to be guided. That is my fuel and my inspiration, and also why I believe in the absolute value of mentorship.”

In 2015, Koto established The Wempy Dyocta Koto Award. The award prizes 12 Indonesians around the globe with mentorship from 12 extraordinary Indonesian mentors and 12 inspiring international mentors for 12 months.

Koto himself serves as a mentor to some of Indonesia’s trailblazing entrepreneurs. Muhammad Ajie Santika, founder and CEO of Tinker Games, a Bandung-based digital entertainment and mobile-game developer, was on the brink of bankruptcy when Koto stepped in. In just a year under Koto’s mentorship, Tinker Games reported a healthy revenue of US$800,000.

Another mentee, Muhammad Alfatih Timur, is the co-founder and CEO of KitaBisa, Indonesia’s first crowdfunding platform, which has raised over US$4 million for over 3,000 initiatives. Timur also joins 16 other Indonesians who were recently ranked as Asia’s top promising young leaders, daring entrepreneurs and game changers in the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list.

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Born in the small town of Padang Panjang in West Sumatra, Koto moved with his family to Sydney, Australia, when he was just three years old. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and a master’s in International Studies from the University of Sydney. Koto is also a graduate of the THNK School of Creative Leadership in Amsterdam.

While Koto is currently based between London and Jakarta, he is constantly on the move. “I believe that travel is one of the greatest investments we can all make,” he says. “If you can see the world through different perspectives, that’s what it’s all about.

Garuda Indonesia is my preference,” Koto says, admitting that he takes it easy whilst travelling by spending his time on board “usually catching up on work, watching a few movies and getting some much-needed rest. I travel everywhere to educate; but, truly, the lessons are coming back to me. That goes back to what my mother and father told me, which is that, for education, travel to the ends of the world.”