There are almost no Indonesians that never use products from PT Kalbe Farma, Indonesian pharmacy giant that produces a lot of popular medicines and nutrition products. The person behind this company is Boenjamin Setiawan, a pharmacy graduate from Universitas Indonesia and University of California who managed to develop PT Kalbe Farma; from a small pharmacy store in a small garage in Jakarta to multinational pharmacy company.
From Teaching to Developing Pharmacy Company
When Boenjamin Setiawan graduated from University of California with pharmacy degree, he had stable, decent job as a pharmacy lecturer. However, his business instinct urged him to open his own pharmacy business. Together with six partners, he started a pharmacy business startup in a small garage in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta. Kalbe Farma officially started to operate on September 10th 1966 as a small pharmacy business.
The company enjoyed small profits and slowly developed, until the monetary crisis in year 1998 that sent many companies in Indonesia to bankruptcy. Even after applying for loan from foreign banks, Boenjamin was still unable to keep the company running as well as before. Finally, Boenjamin decided to sell many of the company assets except those that are related to pharmacy, before starting the new business branches while keeping Kalbe Farma as a pharmacy company running. During the difficult times, Boenjamin kept his company from crumbling by expanding the company’s business to other fields like property and logistic, but still strengthening the main business in pharmacy.
Finally, he managed to keep PT Kalbe Farma from bankruptcy, and later even managed to increase its business expansions and profits. In 2012, Kalbe Farma even managed to acquire a health beverage company, Hale International. In the same year, the company also went into joint venture with Milko Beverage and built Kalbe Milko Indonesia. This company later made popular health beverages in Indonesia such as Sakatonik, Extra Joss and Fatigon.
Success from Strong Business Base
The key of Kalbe Farma’s success is strong business base, which focuses on pharmacy despite various business branches expanded by the company. Currently, about 17.4% of its profits come from medicine products, and 20% come from nutritional or health products such as baby and toddler milk, pregnant mother supplement and extra calcium milk.
Boenjamin, which is now 80 year old, has now retired and decided to move his business to younger generation. Currently, his niece Bernadette Ruth Setiady holds the position as director.