Utari Octavianty, Co-founder & CSO of Aruna
East Ventures


5 April, 2023


Digital economic growth agenda through the application of ESG: Utari Octavianty, Co-Founder & CSO of Aruna

In 2021, the value of Indonesia’s digital economy has reached USD 63 billion and continues to grow and is expected to reach USD 360 billion in 2030. How do startups play an important role as a catalyst for digital economic growth?

As was conveyed by the Minister of Communication and Informatics (Menkominfo) at the G20 Digital Innovation Network in Bali last November, which focused on 5 issues, one of which was the supply chain, Aruna seized a positive opportunity for this. In line with Aruna’s business process which streamlines the fisheries supply chain, Aruna is optimistic that next year it will be able to make a positive contribution to Indonesia’s digital economy for the fisheries sector.

This is supported by the high demand for seafood commodities from Aruna, from the global market. Of course, Aruna will strive to meet global market demand by supplying commodities caught by local fishermen.

The global economy is facing a multidimensional crisis or perfect storm due to the global recession, energy crisis, and geopolitical tensions. What strategies do Aruna prepare to face this condition?

Until now, several countries in the world have declared recession, we are also concerned about this condition. Seeing the rich potential of Indonesia’s resources, especially for the marine and fisheries sector, is a great opportunity for Aruna to become a leader in this industry. Of course, we are also preparing several other business strategies to deal with this condition, one of them is our effort to maintain supply and demand for fishery commodities in order to meet Aruna’s target market.

In the midst of rapidly growing digitalization, digital and physical infrastructure is still not evenly distributed in Indonesia. How will Aruna take advantage of this opportunity to encourage digital equality and digital economic growth in Indonesia’s tier 2 and 3 regions?

There are still many challenges to equal distribution of digitalization in Indonesia, especially for tier 2 and 3 regions. Inadequate and inequitable infrastructure, and unreliable human resource competencies are still homework together. At Aruna, we are trying to gradually adopt this digitalization. Introducing the internet and applications to fishermen is not an easy task, so we are currently assisted by the presence of Local Heroes Aruna, who is our extension in the field. They are the local youth generation who help us to interact directly with Aruna’s fishermen. Through Local Heroes, digitalization of technology for Aruna fishermen and coastal communities can be realized.

Startups bring technological innovations that have a real impact on the digital economy, and collaboration is important in it. How does Aruna collaborate to grow a sustainable digital ecosystem?

Realizing this big thing, of course, Aruna needs collaboration with many parties in it. We will work together with the government to gradually realize this digitalization to remote parts of Indonesia. For example, in the middle of last year, together with the Minister of Communication and Informatics, Aruna and the Foundation, we conducted digitalization training in Dompu and Papua targeting fishermen and the surrounding coastal communities.

Resilience depends on the ability to adapt in the midst of various conditions, even when disruption occurs. What do the business models and digital talent need to continue to open new digital economy potential?

It is undeniable, the era of disruption has forced all of us to adapt, automatically our abilities must also adapt to this era; otherwise we will surely be left behind. This 4.0 era must also be looked at carefully, to what extent are our own human resource capabilities. Our human resources may not be as fast and agile as foreign human resources, but their abilities, skills and competencies must continue to be upgraded and accelerated. Familiarizing ourselves to think carefully, observantly, and complexly must be started and accustomed to as early as possible, therefore we produce generations of human resources who are reliable, ready to work, and ready to adapt to all conditions.

Of course, the government is expected to be able to collaborate with the private sector and be able to compile and make regulations that support efforts to accelerate industry 4.0 so that the 4.0 revolution can take place optimally.

The digital economic growth agenda which includes alignment with SDGs through the application of ESG, how is it implemented at Aruna and what are the challenges faced?

There are still many challenges faced in the field for the implementation, for example educating fishermen to catch marine commodities according to their size. We in the field are still educating them to catch with environmentally friendly tools, not to catch commodities that are spawning and small in size. We continue to educate things like this in the field because not all fishermen understand sustainability practices like this.

The central government carries out the blue economy program to maintain ecological health and sustainable national economic growth. What is Aruna’s role in the success of the program?

Aruna has realized this before and our business has been running with sustainable principles. Aruna’s products have been promoting traceability and have received certificates required by export countries and existing regulations. Aruna also implements the SDGs principle related to Gender Equality, employing coastal women to work at Aruna

We also take care of the ocean by cleaning beaches (almost 1 ton of garbage collection) and planting mangroves as part of our commitment to contribute to reducing carbon emissions throughout 2022.

Download the EV-DCI 2023 here.