Indonesia leader Jokowi's son Kaesang Pangarep graduates from SUSS, lauded with entrepreneurship award

Kaesang Pangarep, youngest son of Indonesia President Joko Widodo, receives the SUSS-EMP Alumni Entrepreneurship Award from President Halimah Yacob at the SUSS Graduation Ceremony on Oct 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) students had not taken much notice of the "quiet" guy in their classes for almost four years, so it came as a surprise when it emerged that he was the son of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Word soon got around after a student spotted a news item some time back that mentioned that "the Indonesia president's son is studying at SUSS".

So all eyes were on 24-year-old Kaesang Pangarep when his identity as Mr Joko's youngest son was confirmed at the university's opening convocation ceremony on Wednesday (Oct 9).

Mr Joko - better known as Jokowi - was in town for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat and attended the ceremony amid camera flashes from members of the media and public alike.

President Halimah Yacob and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung were also there.

Mr Kaesang's girlfriend Felicia, who graduates this year, was also present. The Straits Times understands they met at the university.

Around 2,000 SUSS graduands will receive bachelor's and higher degree certificates in five sessions being held over the next three days.

Mr Kaesang, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing with a minor in communications, was also one of three students honoured for entrepreneurship on Wednesday.

The awards recognise graduating students who have shown strong entrepreneurial attributes such as leadership and a "high potential for achieving a positive impact on society", SUSS said.

Each winner received $5,000 in cash.

Mr Kaesang has founded six businesses, the latest being Ternakopi, a coffee delivery brand that has raised seed money from angel investors and venture capitalists.

His first start-up - established before he entered SUSS - was Sang Javas, which sold T-shirts. It was a flop, but the failure did not deter him.

During his four years at SUSS, Mr Kaesang also founded Sang Pisang, a banana fritter franchise, board game firm Hompimpagames, food app and restaurant site Kaetering, in addition to Ternakopi.

His coffee and banana fritter businesses have expanded to Kuala Lumpur, and he has plans to bring them to Singapore, he said.

Mr Kaesang told the media after the ceremony that he looked to his father as well as older brother Gibran Rakabuming as mentors: "My father was a businessman before he entered politics. My brother was also a businessman. That's why I'm so keen to enter the business area."

Mr Gibran, 32, also went to school in Singapore, graduating from the Management Development Institute of Singapore in 2007 before attending the University of Technology in Sydney.

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His sister Kahiyang Ayu, 28, majored in food technology in Sebelas Maret University in Solo, Indonesia, and graduated in 2013.

Mr Kaesang said that doing a full-time, four-year programme at SUSS while managing his business ventures has been "quite challenging", but the university's flexible hours has helped.

He added: "There are courses on (business) strategy, that's where I learnt how to strategise how to start my businesses. Within the four years, I started five businesses... those modules helped."

The young entrepreneur is also a social media star who runs a YouTube channel and an Instagram account with 1.6 million followers that he uses to publicise his business ventures.

Mr Kaesang, who graduated from Anglo-Chinese School (International) before entering SUSS, noted that he only picked up English after moving to Singapore.

When asked what Indonesian students could learn from Singapore schools, he said: "The way of life because in Singapore, everything is about discipline. It has shaped the way I am."

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