SINGAPORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge (“Challenge”), jointly launched by Alipay, the world’s leading 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), today 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 percent 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 start-up is able to dramatically reduce transaction costs, helping the fishermen raise selling prices by as much as 20%, while 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 S$60,000 as the grand finals winner, while the other eight finalists from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will walk away with S$10,000 each. These nine start-ups 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 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.
Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay is the world’s leading payment and lifestyle platform. Launched in 2004, Alipay currently serves over one billion users with its local e-wallets partners. Over the years, Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler. Users can hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make doctors appointments, or purchase wealth management products directly from the app. In addition to online payments, Alipay is expanding to in-store offline payments domestically in China and internationally. Alipay’s in-store payment service covers over 50 markets around the world, and tax reimbursement via Alipay is supported in 35 markets. Alipay works with over 250 overseas financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese overseas travellers and overseas customers who purchase products from Chinese e-commerce sites. Alipay currently supports 27 currencies.
About National University of Singapore (NUS)
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education, research and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. We have 17 faculties across three campuses in Singapore, as well as 12 NUS Overseas Colleges across the world. Close to 40,000 students from 100 countries enrich our vibrant and diverse campus community.
Our multidisciplinary and real-world approach to education, research and entrepreneurship enables us to work closely with industry, governments and academia to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in our faculties, 29 university-level research institutes, research centres of excellence and corporate labs focus on themes that include energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; as well as risk management and resilience of financial systems. Our latest research focus is on the use of data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative.
For more information on NUS, please visit www.nus.edu.sg.
About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores. For more information, please visit www.enterprise.nus.edu.sg