Indonesia “sea-to-table” platform Aruna hooks $35M led by Prosus and East Ventures Growth Fund – ClearTips

When Aruna’s founders first met at university, they wanted to find a way to use their studies in information technology to help their family members who were raising small fish. Indonesia is one of the largest fish producers in the world, but the industry is very fragmented. This means that fisheries, especially small ones, deal with fluctuations in demand and price volatility. Aruna was created to bring customers such as restaurants and exporters closer to the way farm-to-table startups are aggregating the agricultural supply chain.

Aruna today announced that it has raised $35 million in Series A funding led by Prosus Ventures and East Ventures Growth Fund, with participation from SIG and returned investors including AC Ventures, MDI and Vertex Ventures. Aruna says this is the largest Series A investment to date in Indonesia’s agritech and maritime sector.

The company deals primarily with small fisheries (or those with boats with a capacity of about one to two metric tons) and focuses on sustainability, helping suppliers adhere to the goals of United Nations Goal 14 is. These include preventing overfishing, protecting coastal ecosystems, and giving small-scale fisheries access to more resources and markets.

Aruna was founded in 2016 by Fareed Naufal Aslam, Indraka Fadlilah and Utri Octavianty, who met while studying Information Technology Administration and Management at Telkom University. Fadlilah and Octavienti came from families in the fishing industry, and the three wanted to create something that could solve some of the challenges they faced.

“That was the main idea, but the big thing we saw at the time was the advantage of Indonesia’s position as a large agricultural country with great potential in the seafood industry,” Aslam told ClearTips.

According to the World Bank, Indonesia is the second largest producer of fish in the world. The sector generates approximately $4.1 billion in annual export earnings and supports more than 7 million jobs.

But Aruna’s founding team noticed two major problems when analyzing coastal communities. The first was to get market access and fair prices for seafood. The second was access to working capital.

To address the first issue, Aruna was made to shorten the supply chain, which Aslam said could be six or seven layers between fisheries and buyers such as restaurants, markets or exporters.

Buyers place purchase orders through the platform, which are then distributed to fisheries communities that Aruna organizes to focus on specific types of seafood. This helps them anticipate demand, guarantee return business, and prevent overfishing.

Aruna also built a logistics network that includes over 45 collection sites, or warehouses, where seafood is distributed by fisheries for quality checks, processing and packaging. Aruna’s warehouses are a combination of facilities it has or runs with partners. Delivery is done by third party logistics providers.

The platform currently has around 20 product categories and will be using its funding to expand further. Its items include high-value products such as lobster, which are shipped by exporters to markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States.

One of Aruna’s main requirements for on-stage fisheries is linked to its sustainability process. According to the World Bank, one of the biggest problems facing Indonesia’s fisheries is the loss of marine biodiversity. Members of the Aruna team work with fisheries to standardize their equipment, so they follow government regulations and choose locations that don’t eat as much fish.

By focusing on each type of seafood, the fisheries we work with Aruna are able to ensure the quality and traceability of their products and manage fluctuations in pricing.

Another problem Aruna is working on is the lack of access to working capital. To help fisheries get low-interest, collateral-free loans for equipment and other things they need for their businesses, Aruna partners with financial institutions and fintech companies. When Aruna applies for a fisheries loan, the platform is able to provide the transaction data collected on the platform for credit scoring.

The company also announced today that it has appointed Budiman Goh as its President and Octavienti as its Chief Sustainability Officer. Its funding will be used to expand into new areas in Indonesia, hiring data analytics and technological developments, including IoT devices to help with quality checks.

Aruna plans to focus on Indonesia for the foreseeable future due to the large number of fisheries in the country.

“We currently have 21,000 fishermen on the platform, yet Indonesia has about 2.7 million fishermen, so there is a lot of room to grow,” Aslam said.

Sachin Bhanot, Head of South East Asia Investments, Prosus Ventures, said in a statement, “Having built a robust supply chain and technology infrastructure, coupled with in-depth industry knowledge and expertise, we believe Aruna Uniquely positioned to meet the growing global demand for sustainable fisheries products, while supporting the livelihoods of local fishermen.”

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