I am writing this as the pandemic is soaring throughout the world. People are looking for business opportunities. A way to earn an income and get by. Especially in Bali, where tourism was the main source of income. Now expats and locals alike are looking into startups, business opportunities, making their own company and earn a good income.
The governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, also wants that the island should stop relying on sole the income of tourism. (Source: Bali Strives to Diversify Its Economy and Rely Less on Tourism) The creativity and agriculture (mango steen, dragon fruit) is something to explore. But before we go the potential opportunities I want to inform you about all you might want to know about starting or even buying a business in Bali.
What does a foreigner need to start a business in Bali?
In Indonesia, foreigners cannot just start a company (or work for one). You need some legal papers for it. If you work for a company you would need something that is called a KITAS and IMTA. The Kitas is your living permit in Indonesia, and the IMTA is the working permit.
For owning a business or company in Indonesia/Bali you would need an “investors permit”.
The IMTA is often taken care of by the company a foreigner applied for. The Investors permit is something more difficult. There are some restrictions on age and there is a rent condition of the accommodation. The rules are changing from time to time and it is easiest to read on the Immigration Requirements for Permanent Stay.
Why buy a business in Bali 2020
Currently, assets are not assets in Bali anymore. They have become liabilities. Some hotels, restaurants and other types of businesses have not been generating any income. But they still require maintenance, upkeep and the property still needs to be paid for.
This makes them go on the market as the owner is trying to mitigate loss as much as possible. This could be an opportunity to buy your business in Bali. On OLX, the digital market place of Indonesia lists any type of commercial businesses you might be interested in:
The prices vary and you would need to assess the situation yourself as well. will Bali reopen soon, how is the flow of tourism when it reopens. There are always risks involved when buying or renting business for the long term.
Potential startups & business opportunities in Bali
Ok we just covered the legality, and that potential to buy an existing property. Now it’s time to check what fresh startups have potential in Bali. There are many more opportunities I am just listing only 11 ideas that are on the top of my head.
A lot of the shopping boutiques in Seminyak are owned by foreigners. They established a brand and gave life to this industry. With inspiration and effort it can work. Many of them show new collections each season.
You can start with networking and finding people who can sew and craft your products: Shoes, Fashion wear, accessories. The artisans in Bali are very skilled people and making top-notch quality products.
Handicrafts & Arts
Talking about the artisans, not just for garment or fashion making, but also for their handicrafts and arts are exemplary. Paintings, small statues, and gimmicky decor that can brighten up the room.
Areas in Bali such as Kerobokan and Ubud are filled with expert wood crafters. Do you have an idea of something that can sell in wood or even woven rattan handbags? Made in Bali, just saying that you can have a footprint in it.
Furniture Export Bussines
With almost 2 Billion USD worth of furniture being exported yearly, you can be part of this. It’s actually still increasing each year. I am not sure about 2020, because of the corona pandemic how it will go.
You will need to find furniture manufacturers and decide how to start: small, big, huge! A big network is required for this because you got to know how to ship large quantities and who makes the better furniture (consistently).
Interested in this? I have an article about the furniture from Bali is taking over .
Hotel / Resort / Villa
You can start any form of accommodation: Hotel, Resort or even a villa. I would not do a hostel or homestay where everyone is close to each other due to the coronavirus. With the pandemic, it is hard, but as I mentioned before, the accommodations are for sale (cheap!).
You can also rent long term a villa to re-rent to those who want a lush and luxury feel in your villa. Remember though that when you use platforms to rent it out, they will take a commission (this is normal), so adjust the pricing accordingly.
Everybody has got to eat, and once in awhile dining out is what is a normal thing in Bali. So starting a restaurant is an idea. But you got to do some research first. Don’t start a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, make sure there are potential customers.
No don’t copy the neighbor as well, be unique when it comes to food, service, and decoration. The decor is very important and can set you apart from others.
Since there are many restaurants closing down in Bali it could be possible that some of them are for sale! check out the links to buy/rent properties, maybe your dream restaurant business is for sale right now.
Before we start right in it, your touring company should not be just like any other out right now. It should set you apart and you can do this. You should know the difference between licensed guide, and driver in Bali.
To make yourself unique, add the extra service and security against Corona. offer tours in the native language of your customer. Tailor their whole vacation from A-Z to give them the unique Bali experience.
Besides doing tours, you can start your diving company, trekking, or any of the local activities. Some even made the Bali Swings for the tourists.
Whatever you do, make sure to check with the Banjar if it’s possible. They will want to know what your plan is and how this will affect their village. Other business examples in this area could be: Sky biking, skydiving in Bali, cycling tour.
It’s not really a company but some invest in properties to later resell it again. But as a foreigner you need to check your options as owning properties might not be possible. There are some workarounds like long term rental of properties and land. It’s a potential opportunity but you will need a lot of patience for this one.
Connecting Buyers and Sellers
As a liaison or somebody connecting buyers and sellers, you can earn a commission. Sometimes 1 commission can be several thousand US dollars! think about connecting somebody who wants to buy/rent land, villa, hotel. You find the client for it, your commission can be up to 1.5% or even more!
It’s hard work finding the product/service and a client for it. And as a connector, you need to have as much information ready as the potential client might have them. If you don’t have the answers to the questions the client might wonder, why do I need you? So provide good service in this area to close a deal.
Digital Services, IT
Bali has more focus on tourism. But the digital infrastructure is missing. I am not saying make a hosting or data center there, that’s actually a terrible idea (cost of electricity, and downtime of electricity). I am saying provide services for companies who need digital services like we website, application, or even a webshop.
Most IT people from Bali themselves will go to bigger cities for better job opportunities in IT. This makes a gap in the market. Now there are many digital nomads, but it’s easy to distinguish yourself from them.
Provide transparency and excellent service. High quality work is always praised and will get you more work.
An unusual addition to the list is being a doctor for animals: Veterinarian. Yes, there is much need for this. There are plenty of stray dogs, cats, and animals in need of medical care.
I am unsure if a foreigner is allowed to practice this, but it’s worth looking in to. Pets are often underappreciated and they also need help from time to time. If you feel this is a calling to you, you should surely check the possibility of starting up this type of business.
Do you feel inspired already? Before you jump into any type of business let me remind you of the requirement of legal papers! As a foreigner, you need the correct papers to start working (even voluntary).
The ideas to start a business are only limited to our own imagination. So what creativity do you want to bring?