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Afu Utami: Providing Indonesia’s Voters with Relevant and Accessible Information

Afu Utami: Providing Indonesia’s Voters with Relevant and Accessible Information

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Andhyta Firselly Utami aka Afu, the co-founder and CEO of Vote Wisely. Let’s learn about what’s happening there and how Afu is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Afu, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Vote Wisely?

Afu: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! In the 2024 elections, there are 107 million voters under the age of 40, making up 52% of the total voter pool in Indonesia. 70% of them are anxious about multiple issues, but only 8% self-identify as politically engaged. This is caused by the lack of credible and accessible political information, along with the missing link between issue-based political processes. Bijak Memilih addresses this by providing digestible and relevant information that they need to know to make informed choices.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Afu: Starting from a sense of unease, I observed that young people still base their choices on other people's without forming their own framework, which is not ideal for a democratic process. This sparked the question, "Can accessible and better information improve political awareness?" So, fueled by that curiosity, I felt it was the right time to advocate for a more systemic change rather than promoting "good individuals" through Bijak Memilih.

Spiffy: What would you say is the impact of your work?

Afu: We garnered 1.4 million unique website visitors aged 17-40 and 11 million page views from 300 cities in six countries. Our survey revealed that 29% felt more optimistic about Indonesian politics, 41% of first-time voters aimed for deeper political engagement, and over 90% gained election insights through Bijak Memilih. Collaborating with local organizations and hosting more than 70 events in more than 36 cities, including Festival Pemilu, Bijak Memilih engaged with more than 80 partners to organize more than 70 socializations and discussions.

Spiffy: Wow! Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your community?

Afu: In January 2024, Bijak Memilih organized Festival Pemilu to redefine meaningful engagement between the public and legislative and executive policymakers. We successfully invited all national political parties to participate and drew 1,112 participants, 40% of whom were first-time voters.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Afu: We were pleasantly surprised to see how our initiatives reached beyond Millennials and Gen Zs. Several testimonials revealed that high school teachers have been using our platform to teach their pupils about democracy and the election. Gig workers, like online motorcycle drivers, have been using our website to gain better information before the election. Hearing the testimonials has been one of the biggest drives for us to keep going despite all the challenges.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Afu—it’s been an honor!

Afu Utami is the co-founder and CEO of Think Policy and co-initiator of the Bijak Memilih movement. Shaped by a strong desire to advance the public policy ecosystem at Think Policy, she concurrently channels her enthusiasm towards building a political education platform at Bijak Memilih. She has a master's in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School. (Nominated by Maya Bingaman at MIT Solve. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 25, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.