Love buying souvenirs abroad? Gems from Jakarta

(Enjoy reading the blog accompanied by Indonesian folk music played in the background. It represents the Rice Harvest & Communal Rice Pounding Fiesta)

More than 1 billion people travel around the globe each year. More often than not, tourist traffic is flowing to developing countries in the Global South. Souvenir shopping is a “must-dos” from travelers. There are only so many generic and mass produced brick bracks for one to choose from. Why not invest your money directly on products which  make a difference to the locals who produce them?

On a recent trip to Jakarta, we discovered some unusual gems highly recommended as gifts for loved ones. This is not a comprehensive list but it may give you some ideas if you are in Jakarta and shopping for gifts.

Javara (‘champion’ in Sanskrit)
We were really impressed with the storytelling skills of Javara, a story accompanies each product while espousing  their benefits. The social enterprise was founded by 45 year old, Helianti Hilman. Inspired by Indonesian biodiversity, indigenous wisdom and spirituality, Javara works closely with small scale farmers in Indonesia. Its value added products range from spices, organic coconut sugar, noodles, herbal drinks, salt and coconut oil. Javara started focusing on the market overseas for the past 2 years. We have some concerns about the impact of producing crops for an export market which may impact local food security. There should be a balance achieved by taking into account the need to remain sustainable economically and ensuring food sovereignty which empowers small scale farmers. That makes the case for alternative models of economic sustainability today.


Martha Tilaar

The idea of wanting to preserve and promote Indonesian culture and nature through their unique products is commendable. Martha Tilaar is a household name in Indonesia with extensive lines of products in the global market. We were impressed with the Kampoeng Djamoe Organic (KaDO) initiative. It was established in 1997 and dedicated to conserving Indonesian herbal, cosmetic and aromatic plants. KaDO also provides training for local organic farmers focused on  promoting practices such as soil conservation, seed saving, sustainable harvest to production methods and distribution of the crops. In addition to this they provide education on cosmetology and contribute to local women empowerment programmes.

martha tilaar

Pei liked their fabulous soap. However, this is not an organic soap and contains  hazardous chemical substances, such as EDTA. Pei liked the unique combination of herbs and oils which enhanced its fragrance. The packaging is not eco-friendly as it contains a plastic mold. It was useful for placing the soap after use. Puncturing the mold with a sharp object will facilitate the draining of the  water after use.

3. Pipitin Cocoa
This was our favourite discovery. The enterprise makes chocolate from scratch. Their cocoa beans are from

  • Tanazozo, Flores Island
  • Glenmore, East Java
  • Tabanan, Bali
  • Pidie Jaya, Aceh

Cacao Nibs from Flores Island are cocoa beans organically grown by the indigenous farmers of the Tanazozo tribe. The enterprise ensures the farmers receive a fair price and marketing support for their produce. The cocoa nibs undergo a fermentation process before being roasted. The fermentation process makes a significant difference because it encases the strong flavour of the nibs. Cocoa nibs make a good snack and be additives to muesli, granola, baked items, smoothies and desserts.

Pei found the bitter-sweet taste perfectly balanced.



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