Interview with Tiffany Sentosa

Introduce yourself!

I’m Tiffany Sentosa, and I’m from Indonesia. I currently go to Barnard College at Columbia University New York. I major in Architecture and Economics with a minor in Art History. Through this, I am interested in Indonesian urban design and political economy. My goal in life is to design sustainable cities that will stimulate the economy while still maintaining local heritage and culture. As a proud citizen of Indonesia, I’m fortunate to grow up in a country with such diverse cultures. Often, simply by traveling or meeting new people around my country, I am constantly inspired by new designs that are deeply rooted in Indonesian culture. 

What exactly is Hungry Bears

My sister and I run a baking business that sells a variety of baked goods for charity. From cronuts to beignets, we bring foreign tastes to our city. We are still running the business to further help our community. 

What inspired you to start Hungry Bears?

After coming back from the States due to COVID-19, my sister and I realized that our country’s economy and welfare system cannot sustain and support the needs of the less fortunate. Through this, we created a food business that would donate all of its proceeds to the people most affected by the economic repercussions of COVID-19. We combined our love for baking with our passion for the community. Through this small venture, we were able to donate over 2,000kgs of rice and other necessities to our local community. 

How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has most greatly affected Indonesia? How do you think Indonesia is going to recover?

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our city. Closures and social distancing procedures have closed many small businesses down, usually leaving employees without jobs and unable to provide for themselves or their families. Our government did not create regulations or welfare systems to combat this devastating recession. Since the city is without strict protocols and guidelines to fight this virus, it seems like the pandemic is going to last a long time. When I go out for appointments, often workers confide in me about how worried they are about their jobs and how if another quarantine period is in place, they may not even have enough to feed themselves.

 I think Indonesia is going to recover very slowly. Restrictions are not strict enough to encourage people to stay at home. Malls, restaurants, even bars are still open even though the COVID-19 virus is spreading more and more and infecting more people. If this continues, the recession is going to take a lot longer to recover from. 

Your business is a nonprofit; how did you see it helping the Indonesian population during COVID-19? Is the result what you hoped it would be?

With the profits from our small business, we were able to donate more than 2,000kgs of rice to our local community. We teamed up with local representatives (people who are responsible for the community) to distribute the goods. My sister and I focused on communities with the lowest income to help those who are struggling the most. I hope, in the future, we can make more contributions to help those around us.


How have you kept yourself busy during COVID-19? 

Surprisingly, the pandemic has kept me fairly busy. I created 3 more small businesses surrounding food and self-care that have done fairly well. Hungry Bears has done more than help others; our small business venture has taught me many things about starting a business and gave me a passion for food and baking. 

What would be your advice for those who want to help their communities but do not know where to start?

When I started this business, I was worried that my contributions wouldn’t be large enough to make a difference. However, through time, I understood that any contribution, however big or small, can make a huge difference in someone’s life. 

How long did it take for you to come up with the idea and product before you were selling?

It actually didn’t take long for us to begin this venture! My sister and I laugh about this all the time. We planned it out in one night, started branding everything, and then launched the next morning! We were overwhelmed and grateful for all the support we had from our friends and family, and was able to grow our business and reach more people. 

Would you ever go on another business venture like this one again?

Definitely! My father and I are planning to start a nonprofit to rebuild homes. Over the years, many communities have suffered due to climate change. The change in our climate has resulted in increased natural disasters such as monsoons, flooding, etc. Many Indonesian citizens still live in informal settlements, often in houses that don’t have strong enough foundations to be resilient to these disasters. I also opened a gelateria that will donate its profits to help victims of the floods in Kalimantan and the recent earthquake in Majene, Sulawesi. 

Tiffany Sentosa is a junior studying at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is passionate about e-commerce, beauty, and architecture. Her dream is to rebuild Indonesia’s marginalized communities through the uplifting of their voices and strengthening their economies.

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