Indonesia’s F1 driver Rio Haryanto needs you… to donate Rp 5,000 so he can keep racing

Rio Haryanto has done many Indonesians proud by becoming the first ever Formula 1 driver from Indonesia. The general consensus is that Rio needs time to establish himself in F1 and that expecting him to finish a race on a podium is asking too much of the rookie in his first season. But if Rio doesn’t sort out his finances, he might not get a second season at F1.

In order to race in F1 this season, Rio had to pay 15 million Euros to his current team, Manor Racing. After receiving funds from sponsors like state-owned oil company Pertamina and the Tourism Ministry, Rio now has to pay a remaining 4.2 million Euros (Rp 62 billion) to Manor to secure his place in the team.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but, for Rio, money could come from text messages. Specifically, ones sent by you.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Communications and Information held an event to launch a fundraiser for Rio. However, it was no ordinary fundraiser. The government teamed up with 5 telcoms – Telkomsel, Indosat, Smartfren, XL Axiata and Tri – to set up a system where people can donate money to Rio via SMS text messages.

By texting “RIO” to 7788, you will be charged or have your pulsa deducted by Rp 5,000, Rp 4,500 of which will be going to Rio’s cause the rest goes towards tax. It was calculated that 12.4 million SMS will be needed to reach the target 4.2 million Euros. The SMS hotline will be taking donations until July 17, 2016.

“Let’s support this. Make it like taking medicine, three times a day. The number of mobile phone users in Indonesia is high, so if everyone does this, we’ll have enough for the donation,” said Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

The government is also open to the idea of this kind of donation to fund other Indonesian athletes in the future so that the ministry won’t have to dig into the State Budget for funding. While we wish Rio well in pursuing his F1 goal, and people are free to donate their money to whatever cause they wish, perhaps the government and telcoms could team up to use this sort of system to fund other causes some people consider more urgent than sportscar racing, like helping to pay for more children to get a proper education or create more mental health facilities so people don’t have to be locked up in chains, and other things the government apparently doesn’t have the money to fund.

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