Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Bambang Ismawan

About Bina Swadaya: Bina Swadaya had led sustainable citizen-led initiatives for over forty years as a financially sustainable rural development organization. Bina Swadaya meets the rural farmer’s need for education, information, and access to goods and services. Bina Swadaya operates a series of revenue-generating companies that also promote rural development, including a publishing company to produce and distribute an agricultural magazine, Trubus. Today, Trubus is a leading magazine with 70,000 copies published monthly, and has expanded to cover many fields. To date, Bina Swadaya has trained over 10,000 community leaders, spawned the creation of more than 12,000 grassroots self-help groups serving 3.5 million people, and launched 650,000 microfinance institutions with 13.5 million members. The organization runs 16 companies, including a franchising operation for agricultural shops that funds almost 95 percent of the organization’s operations.

Global Business & Interfaith Peace Medalist

Bambang Ismawan founded Bina Swadaya, which through its 15 companies and training arms has helped about one million Indonesian Community Based Organizations, each with membership of 25 people or more, become self-reliant. Working across faith lines, Bambang Ismawan has built the largest network of people and organizations working to eliminate poverty, build interfaith understanding and peace in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

(See all medalists here)


Bambang Ismawan is the founder and energy of the 50 years old foundation, Bina Swadaya, a social entreprise, holding of 17 companies under a NGO: Bina Swadaya foundation. . His deepest commitment to empowering people in poverty has been evolving since university years. He is pioneer in various social-economic empowerment as vehicle of sustainable peace; with saving and integrated microfinance strategies to unite people in collaboration and solidarity, to solve problems together regardless social, cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds. Founded 1967 by some Catholic activists, his foundation is now a multi-cultural organisation. Bina Swadaya has grown from the humble into the largest NGOs in Indonesia, which socially invented businesses create turnover of Rp 20 billion, 900 employees, serving people in many corners of the country. Their training center has trained many community facilitators, their agricultural magazine began humbly in 1969 now is the most influential, publishing many books on agriculture, culture etc. Their farm shops serve people in many places. Bambang Ismawan creates various networks of NGOs, universities, business sectors, activists, to work in synergy for many issues, sustainably developing peace by working and making impact together, utilising diversity of profession, culture and faith, etc.

More Detail

(1) The organisation firstly founded by activists of Catholic background, even established by an encouraged by the church, However, since the beginning its path motivated towards a multi religious direction as they believe in unity in diversity, human solidarity. The foundation is now presence with employees, managers and directors from various paths of faith. The newly appointed president of the organisation is also a Moslem. (2) The organisation has been working together organisations of various faith, such as Nahdlatul Ulama, Dompet Duafa (Moslem organization), PGI (Church organizations) (3) Bambang Ismawan has founded a network of universities namely Sinergy Indonesia, in which Catholic, Islamic, private-owned universities create dialogues and work together in issues of sustainable social economic empowerment. The last conference of Sinergi Indonesia is held in Bali, where community leaders of Hinduism background share their wisdom. (4) Bambang Ismawan believes in a wisdom of “development is about friendship”; from which he has developed friendship and programs with people of various background. (5) At the community level, since 1970s the organisation develops a type of self help groups where people encourage to organise experiences, to poll their resources with saving, regularly meet and learn from each other, develop capital formation and knowledge formation, while helping each other problems and solve their community problems together, regardless their background. (6) Bambang Ismawan establish Gerakan Integritas Nasional comprises of some religious leaders.

There is a very strong connection between social capital in the community, peace and sustainability, this is an inherent and important part of sustainable development. The approach to poverty cannot use the economic-finance approach alone. The economic approach should be, and must be, integrated with social capital development, productivity and financial capital. Only then, the infrastructure of sustainability is possible to bring prosperity to the community. We can also apply the logic all the way around, that is, developing economic productivity by means of social capital can also be valuable for developing solidarity and peace.

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