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Entrepreneur of the month: Jack Brown, co-founder and director of Invest Islands

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My business is a property brokerage company based in Indonesia and Hong Kong. At Invest Islands, our main aim is to provide foreign investors with a secure ownership structure; we put a big focus on the legal aspects of purchasing property in Indonesia. My business partner Kevin Deisser and I also have a Lombok-based charity called Invest Islands Foundation, and Organika, an organic fruit and vegetable plantation. We own Tapaz, a restaurant/ bar in nearby Gili Trawangan and have just opened Vinoteca, a wine bar in Kuta.

In setting up Invest Islands in 2014, we started very small with an office on Lamma. I lived in the back room. Kevin was based in Indonesia. We purchased a small block of land in Lombok, in a good location with road, water and electricity access, and we focused on how we could increase its value quickly, with minimal investment. We subdivided it, and sold off the plots for a profit. Once we’d proved that the concept worked, we repeated it on a larger scale. After the first 18 months,we were in a position to hire staff and expand our marketing.

To succeed in business, you need a good idea – you need to spot a gap in the market that no one else has seen. You need a lot of drive, self-belief, friends and financial backing. You also need good advisers/ mentors.

What interests me most about my business right now is our charity, Invest Islands Foundation. We are involving local communities, and focusing on education and waste management. We organise beach clean-ups and encourage responsible reuse of plastic. We were happy to see the first school we’ve built open recently in Batu Banke.

My highlight of 2019 was seeing our plastic-shredding machine in Torok Bay become operational. The plastics are gathered and sorted by local women, who were previously unemployed and in extreme poverty. The programme is aimed at empowering locals, as well as future-proofing the plastic problem, so that we can all enjoy Lombok’s beautiful beaches for years to come.

The greatest challenge I face is delegation. We have a lot of projects running at once and we obviously have to delegate and trust each department head to make good decisions. There isn’t time to micromanage and I’m not a great believer in micromanagement anyway because it doesn’t let people grow. Keeping a balance is important but it can be challenging.

My immediate goal is to complete our resort project in Torok Bay, which should be operational within the next two to three years. I’m focused on our building projects; we have some major construction firms and big names in hotel management interested.

My greatest achievement is Invest Islands, and a volley I hit straight off a corner when I was playing amateur football in the UK…

Invest Islands, Rm 402, 4/F Kai Tak Commercial Bldg, 2-2A Morrison St, Sheung Wan, 5802 5980, [email protected], www.invest-islands.com

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