FF Rising Stars: Ryan Manafe, Dagangan

By Marco De Novellis // 27 September 2023

Ryan Manafe, Co-Founder & CEO of Dagangan, speaking at FF Asia.
Ryan Manafe, Co-Founder & CEO of Dagangan, speaking at FF Asia.

Ryan Manafe’s Dagangan is accelerating Indonesia’s rural economy. See our FF Rising Stars of 2023!

Almost half of the Indonesian population lives in rural areas. But the heavy goods they consume make ecommerce deliveries expensive. Instead, people ride back and forth from cities on motorbikes, transporting rice, cooking oil, and building materials themselves.

To solve this problem, Ryan Manafe’s Dagangan has built up a network of more than 40 micro hubs covering 17,000 villages across Indonesia to provide rural communities with easier access to daily necessities at a lower cost. The company helps brands enter rural markets, sharing their consumer insights in return for a share of their profit margins.

Before Dagangan, Ryan started and ran a leading Indonesian solar company, SUN Energy, and did strategy consulting at McKinsey and Accenture.

Founded: 2019
Country: Indonesia
No. of employees: 855
Stage: Series A
Total funding raised: $18.5m
Investors: Monk’s Hill Ventures, K3 Ventures, Spiral Ventures, GK-Plug and Play, BTPN Syariah Ventura, Hendra Kwik

Why did you decide to start Dagangan?

Our team is mostly from tier three and rural districts in Indonesia. Living in these communities has taught us that digital inequality, a lack of infrastructure, and inefficient government expenditure are the primary obstacles to ensuring the supply of commodities in these areas. We decided to try to solve these problems through the Dagangan platform. 

What do you want to achieve?

First, equalise rural communities’ access to essential products and services through physical and digital infrastructure for our users, national suppliers, and strategic partners. Second, encourage rural entrepreneurs to grow their businesses for the well-being of our users and local suppliers. Third, empower local talent to be vocal contributors to their communities, because our talent is the greatest asset we have.

As an impact-driven company, we strive to have a long-term positive impact on society and we believe that the success of the communities is the foundation for the success of our endeavour. Our long-term objective is to grow exponentially to distribute 10,000 products and to replicate our current business model throughout Indonesia to reach 75,000 villages across the country. 

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Identifying the most effective ways of communication between the different parties involved – our investors, our local talent, and our users, who are primarily spouses and mothers from various backgrounds – can be a challenge. Plus, our users prefer direct interactions like face-to-face meetings. 

Who has helped you most in your journey so far? 

Grace Binowo is not only my wife but also my guiding light in my capacity as CEO of Dagangan. Her professional accomplishments, passion for research, and interpersonal skills have shaped me into a wiser and more inspired leader. And her unwavering support and confidence in me as a leader have given me the courage to take risks and stretch the limits of what Dagangan is capable of achieving.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice:

Always tell the truth, regardless of how difficult it may be. The foundation of trust is honesty, both within our team and with our consumers. Moreover, establishing a sustainable business is not solely about profit and numbers. It involves prioritising our values and ensuring that they’re embedded in every aspect of our business. By remaining true to our values and focusing on a greater cause, we can achieve long-term success and make a lasting impact.

Worst advice:

Prioritise growth at all costs. Focusing on short-term growth without considering unit economics can result in unsustainable business models that are eventually harmful to customers and stakeholders. To develop a successful and ethical company, it’s critical to prioritise long-term viability and honesty. Sustainable growth can only be achieved by sustaining a solid foundation of sensible economics and sincere practices. 

Discover more of our Rising Stars for 2023!