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Basrizal Koto is an invigorating Indonesian entrepreneur

Basrizal Koto
Basrizal Koto is an invigorating Indonesian entrepreneur

Known as Basko; he is a native of Pariaman, West Sumatra.

Basko is considered to be Crazy Rich from Padang – venturing into coal, media, printing, livestock, and property.

Much to everybody’s surprise, the very rich entrepreneur with a super luxurious lifestyle came from a penniless childhood background.

Being an impecunious boy living in a very poor family in his village, Basko decided to relocate to Pekanbaru to seek his fortune. Though he was a school dropout, Basko excelled in communication, allowing him to get a job easily. His first job was as a public transport attendant (kernet) since he was only a school dropout. Fighting tooth and nail to pay rent, Basko tried his luck doing other jobs, like driving, tailoring clothes, and even selling petai. At a young age, he became a street vendor until he ended up selling motorcycles when he turned 17.

He established and expanded his own companies under the umbrella of MCB Group for years, and thanks to Atta Halilintar’s YouTube channel, we now know all about how this “goddamn hillbilly” has a luxurious and spacious house with a modern design. In addition to the swimming pool, it has a beautiful garden. His luxury is also evident in his distinctive fashion style with sunglasses and Richard Mille’s watch worth Rp2 billion (US$134,067).

When asked for investing tips, Basko simply asserts normal things, like avoiding individual stocks if you’re a beginner, eluding short-term trading, and creating a diversified portfolio. He further reminds us that there is no harm in trying, so being picky about jobs should be shunned. When revealing his success story from scratch, however, Basko waxes enthusiastic instead. On many occasions, he often says that what stands out from his story of a long journey from a painful lesson to a sweet outcome rests on three key matters.

First, be a morning person. Basko never sleeps after Fajr’ prayer. Sticking to his mother’s advice, sustenance is around before the sun rises. He sets himself in motion after dawn. He reckons that fortune never sleeps, that is why we should seek it out as early as possible, without delay. Back in the day when he was a tailor in Padang, Basko always opened his shop much earlier than any other tailor shop. It led him to not just get more clients but also to leverage his network. To Basko, early timing is tantamount to wider social networking and investment.

He transforms his morning routine into corporate management. Basrizal Koto exercises random control over his companies’ managers by phone. Like it or not, they are all waiting for this morning’s call on weekdays. He admits that this incredible morning approach has increased human resource productivity. The way he beats the sunrise is central to the companies’ crucial decision-making later.

Second, his love for his mother is a blessing. Basko credits his investing or doing business due to constantly listening to his mother’s advice, no matter how simple and trivial it is. He brought his mother with him wherever he went, confiding in her to get her blessing. It is not just a tribute to his mother. Rather, Basko really understands how to put the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching into practice, “Heaven lies under the feet of your mother”.

Every time he encounters a hard and critical point in his day-to-day business, his mother’s view pumps him up for the challenge. His mother turns out to be his veritable reservoir of inspiration. Basko offers similar wisdom to his own children: “If you aspire to gain the upper hand in business, respect your mother and have her be your first trailblazing encouragement.”

Third, hometown investment is about much more than dedication. For many, investment and profitability stand hand-in-hand and run in a cause-and-effect perspective. Investing is an effective way to put your money to work and potentially build wealth. However, Basko believes that a superior return on investment should not detach someone from his or her origin and history. That’s why, in spite of his massive range of businesses in Riau and Jakarta, Basko still pays attention to his hometown, especially Padang.

In the 1990s, he returned to Padang and developed his hometown by distributing 400 jitneys as public transport in the city. Two years later, he ventured to build the first mall in the city, known as Minang Plaza. Many spurned him as insane at that time. Due to severe damage caused by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred on 30th September 2009 in Padang, Basko renovated the mall and built a hotel next to it, naming them Basko Hotel and Basko Grand Mall, standing side by side. He also acquired West Sumatra’s first media company, Haluan – established in 1948 – for historical reasons, which has expanded into three companies; Haluan (for West Sumatra), Haluan Riau, and Haluan Kepri.

Basko, 62, has retired now and entrusted his companies to his children. Now, he has been spending much of his time playing golf in his “Crazy Rich” circles, collecting luxury motorbikes and cars, and having fun with his grandchildren. He has joined the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club. His collections of lavish motorcycles and cars are neatly lined up in his garage, namely a Mini Cooper, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Jeep Rubicon. With his abundant wealth, Basko is basking in the result of his hard work and learning from failure. He is reaping the rewards of success.

By Donny Syofyan – The writer is a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Andalas University.

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