Indonesian Fisheries Startup Aruna Takes Home US$5.5M Investment from Existing Backers

Aruna’s revenues grew by 86 times in the first half of 2020

Jakarta-based aquaculture ecommerce startup Aruna has secured US$5.5 million from existing investors, according an announcement made by its backer East Ventures on Wednesday.

The funding was raised from Indonesian early stage venture capital investors East Ventures, AC Ventures and SMDV.

The startup will utilize the funding to expanding into more coastal areas and broaden its fisherfolk community ecosystem, aiming to increase their productivity, product quality, and standardization, the statement said.

It added that Aruna will also be scaling operations into new local and overseas B2B markets. Aruna had reportedly announced its plans to raise funds this year at a 2019 conference.

“Aruna’s mission is to make the sea a better livelihood for all,” CEO and Co-founder of Aruna, Farid Naufal Aslam said in the statement.

“Ecommerce helps create more fairness and transparency in the fishing industry, as well as making a more efficient supply chain. By reaching more coastal areas across Indonesia, Aruna joined the effort in building economic equality in Indonesia,” he added.

Founded in 2016 by Aslam and Co-founders Indraka Fadhillah, and Utari Octavianty, Aruna is a trade ecosystem that works with fisherfolk across 31 Indonesian coastal areas between Sumatra and Papua.

The company supports local fisherfolk in exporting their products to Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America and the Middle East, while also facilitating direct access to the domestic B2B market.

Aruna recorded a growth of 86x in revenue during the first half of 2020, comparative to the first half of 2019. Aslam noted in the statement that the demand for seafood and fishery commodities have grown despite the pandemic on account of being a source of nutrients essential to the human immune system.

Commenting on surge, Co-founder and Managing Partner of East Ventures, Willson Cuaca said in the statement, “This is a company that is positively impacted by this [COVID-19] crisis and we are excited to double down on them.”

Aruna also branched into the consumer side of business with the launch of its home delivery service Seafood by Aruna this year. The service was kickstarted to match the spike in demand for home delivery services during the pandemic, and offers home delivery of seafood products to consumers in Greater Jakarta, Bandung, and Balikpapan.

The company has also partnered with Southeast Asian Ecommerce companies Tokopedia, Shopee, Bukalapak, and GrabMart for Seafood by Aruna.

“Aruna focuses on solving one of the biggest problems in the fishery sector in a meaningful way. They increase welfare for fishermen and other SMEs [small and medium enterprises] in the sector while improving transparency in the economy,” Founding Partner of AC Ventures, Pandu Sjahrir said in the statement.

Indonesia is the world’s second latest producer of fish, after China, and employs around 12 million Indonesians.

However, during COVID-19, the fisheries sector reportedly contracted to -0.63% in the second quarter year-on-year as a sub-sector of the Indonesian agricultural sector. The industry had grown 3.52% in the first quarter of the year.

Further, independent fishers reported earnings of $65 per month this year, barely 20% of the $355 per month that they were earning in 2019.

Fisheries in Indonesia are plagued by poor management and overfishing. Almost 40% of Indonesia’s seafood catch, amounting to $7.26 billion every year, is classified as waste or loss due to poor fishery management, and as of 2017, nearly half of its wild fish stock is overfished.

Moreover, even though Indonesian fisheries contributes $26.9 billion, or 2.6%, to the country’s GDP, workers in the fish industry are amongst the lowest paid in the country.

Header image courtesy of East Ventures

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