Rural villages in Indonesia have plenty of underutilized land, rivers and rice paddy fields.
People are eating more fish amid rising living standards and a growing population in Indonesia.
About 64% of Indonesia’s adult population do not have access to traditional banking facilities.
Rising demand for fish, as a cheaper animal protein option, will help rural families to increase their earnings as IWAK fish farmers.
IWAK’s low minimum investment requirement of IDR 150,000 appeals to young workers and fresh graduates. Investments are capped at IDR 15 million, the cost of setting up one stand alone, portable fish pool; tied to a contracted period of four years which may be renewed by the parties concerned.
IWAK’s user-friendly website matches potential investors to its database of would-be fish farmers who have been trained by IWAK’s fishery experts. Each farmer receives up to three portable fish ponds and equipment to start the business. Investors can view daily updates via IWAK’s real-time data software and social media videos.
IWAK also has specialist staff available to support the fish farmers throughout the project, including selling the fishes directly to commercial fish distributors. The profit generated per fish harvest is normally divided among the investors (40%), IWAK (30%) and the farmers (30%). However, the investors could receive up to 55% of the profit every two months at harvesting time for a shorter period of 3.5 years. Each new fish farm contributes 7% of its profit to a collective or mutual fund which is used to cover any losses if farms fail to harvest the fishes successfully.
IWAK is a Javanese word that means “fish”. The co-founders, two of whom were from the Nganjuk regency of East Java, started IWAK’s fish farms in Nganjuk where 88% of its land is underutilized and could easily be used for fish farming. IWAK could also quickly recruit and train more villagers as fish farmers because 76% of Nganjuk’s labor force is unemployed, with 92,000 families living below the poverty line.
Catfish farming was selected as the first type of fish farms because catfish has stable market prices and resilient breeding characteristics that are suited to Nganjuk’s natural environment. Catfish farms are typically ready to be harvested within three to four months. More fish types, including tilapia, will be added in the future.
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Early 2015, initiated a pilot project at Kebon Agung village in Nganjuk regency, East Java province.
December, officially launched the IWAK app.
October, nominated for the Indonesia ICT Award 2015.
December, ranked second at the ASEAN Young Sociopreneur Program 2015.
Early 2015, skepticism from potential investors.
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Early 2016, first harvest since official launch.
March, total investments reached IDR 500 million.
July, total investments reached IDR 900 million.
October, recruited 15 families to manage a combined total of 68 ponds and 279 investors; participated in Mandiri Bank’s incubation program.
IWAK has since recruited 30 families in Nganjuk and in Kediri city (both in East Java) with a combined total of 93 pools and 359 investors.
The greatest challenge now is to upgrade IWAK’s software as quickly as possible to cater to the rapid increase in farms, without disrupting the real-time monitoring system of the fish operations for the management team and existing investors.
Currently run by a management team of 15 and extra ground staff, including fish rearing experts, IWAK is focusing on finding the right balance of investors and fish farmers to enable the database to work more effectively. IWAK is not accepting any new members until the system has been upgraded to cope with the demand.
Add different types of fishes to its portfolio, starting with tilapia.
Export fishes from IWAK farms to Southeast Asia by 2018.
Raise seed funds to expand the online platform and farm operations into other rural areas in Indonesia.