Leaving a comfortable life as a permanent employee and doing business around meatballs may sound unusual for most people. But for Asri Ranga, her desire to be financially independent and have more time for her family was the main motivation for her to start her small business, which has become very successful.

Asri left her position as a General Manager of a hotel at the age of 35. She was determined to stop working and focus on giving more time to her young children. Living in Bitung, North Sulawesi, the largest tuna-producing region in Indonesia, Asri saw an opportunity to develop a meatball food business with tuna-based ingredients.

In the beginning, Asri did not have any special expertise in food processing. She learned everything by herself through trial and error. In the earlier stage of her business, Asri sold the tuna fish balls in the local market. Starting by selling a kilogram each day, the fish balls slowly gained popularity. After many people became her regular customers, she finally gave a trademark to her fishballs. 

After a year, Asri was contacted by the Bitung Maritime and Fisheries Office who suggested her to form a group so that they could receive some equipment as a support for her business. Meat grinders and large mixers have increased Asri’s production significantly. It did not take much time for Asri to expand her tuna fishball market and begin supplying for big supermarkets in Bitung and Manado. Currently, Asri is able to produce around 150 kg of tuna fish balls per week.

Asri feels more comfortable as an entrepreneur. Even though the pressure is still there, it is quite different than working in a company. Now, she can work from home and is independent in managing her schedule. “Owning a business means owning the results as well. When you want to achieve great results, you need to work really hard. If you only want an okay result, then maybe you can relax a little bit,” said Asri.

Asri’s husband is really supportive of her business, he even changed his work from running a travel agency to become a production assistant for Asri’s tuna fish balls business. Being a woman entrepreneur and a mother of two young children might be difficult, but not for Asri, “My children never complained about me running this business. During their free time, they would ask me to produce more fish balls,”

Asri’s next goal is to upgrade her current production site and open a Small Medium Enterprises center where women entrepreneurs can share their knowledge and learn from each other.

Photos: SecondMuse/Ina Saptiono

This story is a part of the Indonesian Women in Fisheries campaign, organized by SecondMuse and USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, to increase public awareness of the importance of women’s role in the seafood sector. Seven inspiring women from Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia will be profiled throughout the campaign. Follow #IDwomeninfisheries on Instagram and Twitter to catch all the stories.

Nov 27, 2019 - 8:00 am