Indonesia's fishermen reap more income, thanks to this app created by the 28-year-old CNBC

Indonesia’s fishermen reap more income, thanks to this app created by the 28-year-old CNBC

Otari Octavianti is no stranger to imposter syndrome.

The 28-year-old is the co-founder of Aruna, an Indonesian farm-to-table e-commerce company that gives fishermen direct access to global consumers, fetching fair prices for their catch.

When we talk to others [start-up] The founders, they came from Harvard, Stanford, and all of a sudden we arrived — from a local university in Indonesia,” she told CNBC Make It.

“But somehow that became the motivator, not the education that was important,” she said. “It’s how we create the impact.”

If this business grows bigger and bigger, is my experience enough to handle all this?

Otari Octavianti

Co-founder, Aruna

In fact, the impact she and her partners, Farid Nofal Aslam and Indraka Fadlullah, have had has been far-reaching – more than 26,000 fishermen in 150 fishing communities in Indonesia now use the Aruna.

They were praised by the Indonesian president Goku “Jokowi” Widodo During the 2019 ASEAN Summit for their innovation and role in increasing the income of fishermen.

How does this multi-million dollar fisheries startup start? CNBC Make It finds out.

Parental disapproval

When Octaviante decided to start a fisheries-related business, her mother was so angry that she didn’t call her for a month, she remembers.

“My parents did not allow me to join the fishing sector because the economic value … is not good,” she said.

This is why my parents asked me to study technology [in university]They had expectations for me to find a good job in the technology industry. “

Otari Octavianti with her mother.

Otari Octavianti

What mostly happens is that the fishermen don’t get paid…the brokers will say they’ll pay you tomorrow, but they won’t. This is why fishermen are getting poorer.

Otari Octavianti

Co-founder, Aruna

So when Octaviante found a way to marry technology and her personal experiences, she knew she couldn’t give it up easily despite her parents’ resistance.

“[My co-founders and I] Create a schedule together. We said, let’s stick around for at least a year and a half. “If that fails, let us look for work,” she said.

“At the time, we thought if not, maybe someone else would do it differently…so let’s just get started.”

Banishing middlemen

Aruna was founded in 2015, when the three co-founders were in their last year of college. They had a simple goal: to provide consumers with a steady supply of seafood.

But after spending time with the Hunters, they realized there were more problems they could help solve.

For example, a long supply chain has been a major factor preventing fishermen from selling their catch at a fair price.

“The fishermen need to sell to the local brokers and the local brokers will sell to the city broker, the city broker will sell to the county broker and so on.”

In 2019, Indonesia’s fisheries sector contributed $27 billion to the national GDP, but the World Bank reported high levels of poverty in the small-scale fisheries sector.

Aruna

“What happens often is that the fishermen don’t get paid…the middlemen will say they’ll pay you tomorrow, but he won’t. That’s why the fishermen get poorer and poorer. It’s happened to my family before too,” said Octavianti. , whose uncle was also a fisherman.

Besides shortening the supply chain, digital fish auction company Mapping data is also used to ensure fair trade.

“We have real-time data on the seasonality of seafood across Indonesia… [for example]”When it’s lobster, lobster and fish season,” Octavianti said.

“Most of the seafood retail industry needs a steady supply of seafood…so if something is not in season on one island, we can supply from another island where it is.”

One of the challenges Aruna faced was the insufficient infrastructure in the fishing villages. Since many lacked electricity and an internet connection, Aruna worked with local governments to get internet via satellite and solar panels.

Aruna

Today Aruna is “one of the largest integrated fisheries trade in Indonesia,” Octavianti said. According to her, the fishing platform exported 44 million kilograms of seafood to seven countries last year, mostly to the United States and China.

Allowing fishermen to have direct access to the market has also paid off.

“We have helped the fishermen increase their income more than two to three times compared to what it was before they joined Arona,” said Octavianti.

personal mission

“I’m more afraid. I have a lot of questions to myself. Am I able to do this? If this business grows bigger and bigger, is my experience enough to deal with all this?”

What preserves her is her personal mission, which she wrote in her diary 16 years ago – to lift families out of fishing villages out of poverty.

“[But now] no longer proven [myself] to my friends. It’s more like, how do we keep it [the business] sustainable, while improving people’s lives.”

If you can connect your personal mission with your business mission, you will have all the design you need.”

Otari Octavianti

Co-founder, Aruna

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