Following the appointment of Gojek co-founder and former CEO Nadiem Makarim as education minister, Indonesia President Joko Widodo has roped in two other startup founders – Adamas Belva Syah Devara of Ruangguru and Andi Taufan Garuda Putra of Amartha – to be part of his special staff.
The presidential special staff is a non-structural institution that helps facilitate the implementation of tasks outside the scope of ministries and other government agencies.
Widodo, who was recently re-elected to lead the country, has appointed 12 people to be part of his special staff, comprising seven new faces all aged 35 years and below.
Among them are 29-year-old Devara, co-founder and managing director of East Ventures-backed edtech company Ruangguru, and 32-year-old Putra, founder and CEO of Mandiri Capital-backed P2P lender Amartha.
At the unveiling of his seven new special staff members on Thursday, President Widodo said he hoped the new appointments would help bridge the gap between the government and the large generation of millennials.
“These seven young people will be my discussion mates on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to give fresh and innovative ideas so we can find new ways that are out-of-the-box for the advancement of our nation,” he said.
Speaking to reporters at the event, Devara said each of the appointed special staff members will work according to their respective areas of expertise. In his case, his focus will be technology and innovation.
“We need to think about digital delivery of public services in the field of things like healthcare or taxes. We will try to think of new ways of doing things,” he said.
For Devara, the appointment comes as Ruangguru is learnt to be in the process of raising a new round of funding.
The company, which provides a learning management system, learning video subscriptions and private tutoring marketplace for students, is believed to be in talks with SoftBank for a new funding round. Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, confirmed the Japanese firm’s interest in the startup in August.
In a statement, Devara said he will continue in his role at the edtech firm.
“As expressed by the President himself, I am expected to continue working in my current position as managing director of Ruangguru, to never forget my roots in the tech sector. That way, I can give him relevant inputs on new innovation to help the society,” he said.
In a bold but highly popular move, Widodo last month Gojek’s Makarim as Indonesia’s new education and culture minister, making him the country’s youngest minister at 35 years of age.