Credit by Reuters | Nadiem Makarim, co-founder Gojek, is now joining the government
Gojek's 35-Year-Old CEO is the New Indonesia's Minister of Education and Culture
TECHNOLOGY Indonesia

Gojek's 35-Year-Old CEO is the New Indonesia's Minister of Education and Culture

Nadiem Makarim, co-founder of unicorn startup Gojek Indonesia, announced on Monday that he had stepped down as the company's chief executive to take up a post in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's new cabinet as Minister of Education and Culture, as reported by Jakarta Globe.

"Starting today, I no longer have any position or authority in Gojek," Nadiem told reporters after a meeting with the president at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

Jokowi said in his inauguration speech on Sunday that he would need aides who can deliver results, especially in simplifying the bureaucracy and cutting red tape, as well as in cultivating talent, nurturing innovation and attracting investment. 

App-based transportation Gojek founder Nadiem Makarim (center) at the State Palace in Jakarta on Oct 21. Image: JP/Seto Wardhana
App-based transportation Gojek founder Nadiem Makarim (center) at the State Palace in Jakarta on Oct 21. Image: JP/Seto Wardhana

Nadiem, who is a graduate of Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, gained a reputation for transforming Indonesia's messy motorcycle taxi sector into a $10 billion digital business that currently spans several countries in Southeast Asia. 

Critics also have been raving about the fact that Makarim has zero background in education. President Jokowi addressed the issue himself during a press conference on Thursday, October 24.

“There are around 300.000 schools and 50 million students in Indonesia. Makarim’s ability in management and applicative technology could help meet many needs of our country’s education system. Technology makes what used to be impossible possible, and this is something our education needs, a breakthrough,” said the President, as reported by Kompas.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (left), Culture and Education Minister Nadiem Makarim (central), and Foreign Minister Retno pose for a photo ahead of the Indonesian cabinet members swearing-in ceremony presided by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (not pictured) on Oct. 23 October in Jakarta. Image: Adi Weda/EPA
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (left), Culture and Education Minister Nadiem Makarim (central), and Foreign Minister Retno pose for a photo ahead of the Indonesian cabinet members swearing-in ceremony presided by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (not pictured) on Oct. 23 October in Jakarta. Image: Adi Weda/EPA

“This means President Jokowi’s new cabinet will be filled with young people with ability to execute,” said Willson Cuaca to Bloomberg, managing partner of East Ventures, one of the most active Indonesian-focused venture capital firms.

“It shows that Indonesia appreciates what they’ve done for the country. For Gojek, it’s reached a point that even if Nadiem resigns, it’s business as usual.” 

When Your Country Calls You, You Serve

Indonesia Onward Cabinet after the announcement on Wednesday. Image: MI/Ramdani
Indonesia Onward Cabinet after the announcement on Wednesday. Image: MI/Ramdani

"My mission at Gojek was always to show Indonesia on the world stage," he said this week after accepting the cabinet post. "So this is a continuation of that mission, but now for the country on a larger scale." 

“Our schools and academic institutions are going to have to meet the demands of our future economy. That’s why, when I received the mandate to be the Minister of Education and Culture, I knew it was something I had to do,” Makarim is quoted saying.

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