Indonesia’s Aruna wins Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge

  • Helps fishermen raise selling prices by as much as 20%; buyers can pay up to 15% less
  • Has served 1,701 fisherman groups in 16 provinces


NUS Entrepreneurship Centre senior director Professor Wong Poh Kam (1st left); Ant Financial senior director, head of 10x1000 Tech for Inclusion programme Jing Huang (2nd left); and Financial Institutions Group in East Asia and the Pacific, IFC regional portfolio manager Mehmet Mumcuoglu (5th left) presenting certificates of recognition to the finalists of the Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge

THE Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge (Challenge), jointly launched by Alipay, a payment and lifestyle platform, operated by Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial), and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), announced Indonesian start-up Aruna as the grand finals winner.

Aruna was chosen based on its use of digital technology to help fishermen in Indonesia improve their livelihoods through better market access and fairer trading opportunities.

Most of Indonesia’s 2.7 million fishermen live under the poverty line and contributed 25% to the national poverty rate, the Antara news agency reported this month, citing data from the country’s Marine and Fisheries Ministry.

By connecting fishermen and potential customers through Aruna’s online platform, the startup is able to dramatically reduce transaction costs, helping the fishermen raise selling prices by as much as 20%, buyers can pay up to 15% less. Aruna has served 1,701 fisherman groups in 16 provinces.

“We are very excited. This is the first time we have won international recognition for our work. We will next work on further growing our team and help more fishermen out of poverty,” said Farid Naufal Aslam, CEO of Aruna.

Aruna will receive a total of US$44,314 (S$60,000; RM182,907) as the grand finals winner, while the other eight finalists from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will walk away with US$7,386 (S$10,000; RM30,485) each.

These nine startups will also be given support from NUS Enterprise, Alipay, special partner International Finance Corporation (IFC), and other supporting partners of the Challenge, to further develop their ideas.

“Southeast Asia’s Internet economy is growing fast and is projected to exceed US$240 billion (RM990.6 billion) in gross merchandise value by 2025. Against the backdrop of this rapid digital transformation, there is great potential and immense opportunities to use technology to address issues in our local societies,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, senior director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, a division of NUS Enterprise.

“To create a positive and sustainable impact on our society we need to encourage more tech entrepreneurs to apply their entrepreneurial talents to solve social problems with innovative technologies and business models. This is why we are collaborating with Alipay to build a supportive environment for nurturing such impact-driven tech entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia.”

In addition to the cash prize, the winner and all other finalists will benefit from the 10x1000 Tech for Inclusion programme, jointly established by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and Special Partner of the Challenge, and Alipay.

The comprehensive training programme supports the cultivation of 10,000 technology experts in emerging markets from both public and private sectors over the next 10 years.

Since its launch in October 2018, the 10x1000 programme has conducted preliminary surveys to optimise its training modules and has hosted a number of training and exchange activities.

“We believe technology is the greatest driver of social good in this era,” said Geoff Jiang, vice president, general manager of Technology and Business Innovation Group at Ant Financial.

“Since the launch of the social innovation challenge, we have seen some of Southeast Asia’s most innovative solutions to address pressing issues, such as alleviating the strain on societies that comes with a growing ageing population, increasing income for fishermen and farmers, and effectively and ethically managing waste. Building on the success of the Challenge, we look forward to further supporting the teams under the framework of the 10x1000 Tech for Inclusion programme.”

The winner and all other finalists will also receive mentorship and incubation support from NUS Enterprise for a period of three months, as well as access to its BLOCK71, an ecosystem builder and global connector community with co-working spaces in Singapore, Bandung, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Suzhou and San Francisco.


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