28-year-old Indonesian turns $700 into multi-million dollar fishing business

When she was young, Utari Octavianty often felt like a failure because of where she came from.

Her hometown is Kampong Baru, a remote fishing village in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, where many people do not have access to education.

There is even a saying: “If you come from a fishing village, you can’t win.”

That’s why Octavianty considered herself “lucky” when her parents sent her to a middle school in the city. But she soon discovered that there was a “chasm” between her and her classmates.

“I was bullied because I came from a coastal village…I’m not like people who are already well educated and don’t have financial difficulties,” she told CNBC’s success.

The experience ignited her heart and inspired her personal mission – to ensure that one day her village is not known for its poverty, but for its potential.

“At the time, I didn’t know how I was going to achieve this, I just wrote this in my diary.”

Today, these are not just words on paper, but reality.

We have helped fishermen increase their income by two to three times more than before joining Aruna.

Utari Octaviti

Co-founder of Aruna

Now, Octavianty, 28, is the co-founder of Aruna. This is an Indonesian fisheries e-commerce startup that acts as an end-to-end supply chain aggregator, giving fishermen access to a global network.

So far, it has Raised $65 million in Series A fundingwhich is the largest Series A round for an Indonesian startup, according to Aruna.

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sustainable future

In January, Aruna announced $30 million in Series A follow-on funding Led by Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India. With the new funding, Octavianty is looking to expand into more fishing villages in Indonesia and invest in sustainable fishing practices.

To date, Aruna is used by more than 26,000 fishermen in 150 fishing communities in Indonesia.

To date, Aruna has over 26,000 fishermen in its network. It also provides more than 5,000 rural jobs and employs 1,000 coastal women in seafood processing.

Utari Octaviti

“Now that we’ve opened up the market and we have more fishermen on board, we need to be very, very careful with the fish because … Indonesia is overfished,” said Octavianty, who is also Aruna’s chief sustainability officer.

That’s why Aruna asks all their fishermen to focus on the quality of their catch rather than the quantity, and not to fish in marine protected areas.

Aruna also advises fishermen not to use fishing gear such as trawl nets and bombs that damage natural seabed habitats.

“It’s also about motivating the industry. We see so many fishing companies in Indonesia who don’t care about sustainability,” adds Octavianty.

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Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that Kampong Baru is located in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.