Balinese meet Bule – an important day at Tribewanted

As a Bule here in Bali it was a bit saddening (but not surprising) that the absence of a connection between the us and the Balinese was big finding of a group of Harvard students when they presented to us at Hubud this morning. It’s a point I feel strongly about, even if I’m unsure of how long I will be here.

As it happened I had invited Pak Kadek Gunarta (‘Dek’ for short), a local entrepreneur, along to speak to our Tribewanted group. After 50 years of living in Padang Tegal, the village in the centre of Ubud where we work each day, he knows a thing or 15 about the place and has a deep history in using his businesses to support the community. Regrettably, the Harvard 10 had to shoot off before he got started.

Dek Gun

As I blogged about on Medium this week, a big aspect of what makes Tribewanted appeal so much is its novel philosophy of our group spending 25% of our time exploring Bali and working on local projects. In my case, I got to know Dek when we raised money for the families that lost their homes when Clear Cafe burned down (you can see him here in our video at 0.43), so I had a bit of a head start.

I’m impatient by nature and so I am happy our tribe met Dek today (i.e. second week of three months) because I doubt there is anyone else from the Ubud region with his experience in business and community-building projects. On Friday Dek is taking our leader Ben Keene and some others in the team to see his Bali Re Green bamboo project in Songan village, Karangasem.

I helped some of the planting back in December and it was on that day I met three young men in Dek’s team – Deco, Arcana and Ketut. Seeing them connect with the village and hearing them speak so naturally about what they were doing, was important. It was also there I learned of the urgent need to build the 8km pipeline from Lake Batur to Songan village.

So, I have a feeling that today’s rectangle-table meeting will be a pivotal day for the Tribewanted mission.

Update on my other ideas

The startup bank idea is quite cool. As one of the Harvard students said today, a place like Bali is perfect in the creation stage, but less good when you need access to capital, partners etc. Given that we have not started yet, that’s a big tick.

With the startup blog, we are getting some feedback which helps us a lot. We’ll have a new format this week and we’ll also soon trial an online course format.

The best bit!

Most happily of all, we have set a date for a meeting of young Balinese to come together, meet, discuss things that matter to them about their villages and Bali. You won’t be able to read about anywhere else and it will be done in the traditional way of setting a time and place, then turning up and talking. I can’t wait.


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