One Fish At A Time

Wenjian Lin

[Traditional Chinese version below | 繁體中文] 

Asher Social Enterprise

Most people would not give up a good job to become a fish farmer. But then again, Michael Chen is not like most people. 

After a chance meeting that would completely transform his hitherto serene existence, Michael took the plunge and left his post as a manager at one of Taiwan’s biggest IT consulting firms, to begin his second career a fishery innovator.

“I met my pastor and his wife at a friend’s wedding in May 2012 and found out that they were selling fish. But as I spoke to them more, I realised it was not as incredulous as it seemed. They were promoting the consumption of fish reared in a way that does not involve the use of growth hormones and other drugs that could be harmful,” Michael, now 37, said. 

He was intrigued by what they were doing as he knew the prospective benefits it would bring to the Taiwanese public and the farmers. More significantly, that unexpected encounter also ignited a desire in him to do good for the society. 

“For a long time, I have always wanted to contribute to the world I live in. As a father to two young kids, I feel it is my responsibility to do something that will benefit the future generations,” Michael reflected, before adding cheekily: “My pastors are well, pastors, so it is probably better that they concentrate on bringing the word of God to more people and leave the job of developing a business to people like me.”

Michael decided to start an aquaculture social enterpriseSo, over the next six months, Michael dived enthusiastically into the tasks of doing market research and consulting experienced fish farmers. Along the way, he got wind of news that an ex-colleague he looks up to had left his job as a director with Acer Inc. and decided to rope him into the business. 

“During this time, I was always cognisant of the fact that there is a real risk of the business not taking off and this pressure was even greater for Frank [his co-founder] as he was older. But in the end, the encouragement and trust shown in me by my family convinced me to take the plunge and start our business, one fish at a time.” 

Asher International Eco-Health Social Enterprise

In November 2012, Asher International Eco-Health, a company that produces fishery products using advanced water engineering technology and aquaculture techniques was launched. Asher also conducts eco-education tours and other related advisory services. The name of the company holds special meaning for Michael. Asher means "blessed” in Hebrew, and the original passage goes: "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties".


Michael Chen - Founder of Asher Eco-Health International

"So whatever Asher does is always motivated by the desire to bless our country, society and loved ones,” Michael explained.  

Still, despite the numerous hours, the enterprising duo devoted to understanding the industry and all the potential pitfalls it entails, the company still got off to a rough start. 

“For about two and a half years, Frank and I went without a salary. The situation worsened when my wife got retrenched around a year after we started. But the bills for our loans did not stop coming and we still had to support our kids who were under three years old at that time, so I did harbour thoughts of giving up and returning to being a salaried worker,” he said, stoically. 

But Michael soldiered on, fuelled by his faith and sense of purpose. “I was convinced that we had a business model that is sustainable, and even though the sales figures were not great initially, there was at least still growth.”

As the saying goes, fortune favours the brave. Michael’s unwavering determination paid off eventually. In the past two years, Taiwanese, perhaps motivated by a desire to live more healthily, began to pay more attention to the offerings Asher brings to the dining table.  

Recently, the company was also picked by DBS Foundation as an awardee of the social enterprise grant programme, news that greatly cheered Michael and his team. 

“Getting the DBS Foundation Grant is the best encouragement that what we are doing is not in vain and that people are benefitting from our efforts,” Michael said.

The funds will be channelled into various initiatives to extend Asher’s outreach and improve more lives. “Firstly, we want to research for more ways to produce fishery products using methods that do not harm the environment or the people who consume these products,” adds Michael. “Marketing initiatives will also be increased so that when more people know about what we do, the benefits we bring will be greater”.

Yet, growing a commercially profitable business is never Michael’s biggest wish. Indeed, he reveals that his greater motivation is to reduce the number of hungry people in this world. “With more resources and a stable business model, we can hopefully develop new product lines that can be sold to some poorer African countries on a buy-one-get-one-free basis,” he said. 

Plenty of hard work lies ahead, but Michael remains undeterred.

He said: “I may not be able to achieve all the goals I have for Asher in my lifetime, but that is not going to stop me from doing my best and helping all those who need help.” 

For more about Asher International check out their website (Mandarin only) or view their listing in the Asia For Good social enterprise directory.



大多數人不會放棄一份優渥的工作,挑戰重新開始。但是,陳敬恆(Michael Chen )卻選擇了一條不一樣的道路。




“一直以來,我都想為我所生活的世界做些貢獻。身為兩個孩子的父親,我認為我有責任為下一代做些有意義的事情,” 敬恆反思到,然後調皮地說,“我的牧師也是,但他們最好還是把心力放在傳道給更多的人,這種生意上的事還是讓我來吧!”

敬恆經過半年的熱情投入在市場調查和不斷諮詢專家、漁夫,他決定要創建一個水產方面的社會企業。碰巧,他得知以前相處融洽的老長官-榮龍(Frank) –現在的事業合夥人,被資遣,敬恆決定邀請他一起創業。


2012年十一月, 台灣好漁(康福得寶國際健康事業有限公司)成立了。這是一家販售魚產品的公司,強調運用水利工程結合養殖技術以保護生態環境,減緩地層下陷,同時提供生態環境教育體驗和相關的資訊服務。康福得寶的英文名Asher對於敬恆來說有特殊的意義。Asher是希伯來語,意為“有福”。聖經原文為“Asher之地必出肥美的糧食,且出君王的美味”。

“所以我們所做的一切都是為了將祝福帶給我們的國家,社會和所愛的人” 敬恆解釋道。



但是,敬恆的信仰和堅定的信念讓他堅持了下來。 “我深信如果我們的商業模式是可行的,即便剛開始沒有穩定的收入,但最終公司一定能成長。”



“得到星展基金會的資金資助無疑是對我們最好的鼓勵。我們知道自己做的事情是有意義的,而消費者能從我們的努力中受益” 敬恆說到。

這筆資金會被用來開發康福得寶的新產品,進而讓更多消費者受益。“首先,我們會研發更多健康安全的漁類加工品,接著我們會透過生態教育體驗,讓更多人瞭解並重視環境保護的重要性。當消費者認同,市場擴增,就會鼓舞更多的漁民加入友善養殖的行列” 敬恆接著說,“透過市場營銷的影響力,讓更多的人會認同並支持我們的信念。”





 If you want to find more about socially conscious living in Asia, check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.


You may also like

Be Inspired
The glaring rural-urban medical gap seems to get more accentuated across the world and Taiwan is no exception. Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system is one of the best in the world. It provides universal social insurance coverage for all citizens, giving everyone equal and affordable medical services. Yet, the...
Be Inspired
Published in four continents, The Big Issue is a street newspaper that is supporting the homeless and vulnerable, and helping that break the poverty cycle. The social enterprise sells the magazines to the to its vendors at a discounted rate, which in turn are sold to the public with profits...
Be Inspired
This article is also available in [ 繁體中文 ] | [ 简体中文 ] Taipei-based Ai Yi Jia Qin is one of the country’s most well-loved social enterprises. Zhang Xin Tian meets the founders. Ai Yi Jia Qin founders Yu Su-hua and Ms Chen Jui-chu set up a community-based school rooted...

Like what you see? Sign up for our newsletter. SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Top Hits

Live Consciously
Shopping for dad can be a real struggle. But don’t worry, because we’ve rounded up a list of our favourite sustainable gifts for Father’s Day that are bound to please the best dad in the world – your dad. No ties please. [Photo Credit: LSTN ] ZEBRA WOOD SATELITE SPEAKER...
[This article is also avaliable in: Traditional Chinese (TW) | Traditional Chinese (HK) | Simplified Chinese (CN)] To accelerate social impact, the DBS Foundation gives out Social Enterprise Grants each year to high-potential social ventures that are creating positive social impact. We are pleased to introduce our Grant Awardees for...
From edible water bottles to a wearable on-demand masseuse, check out these five cool social innovations that are not only helping make our lives easier but also tackling global issues in new and creative ways 1. Eco-friendly mosquito traps that combat Zika and Dengue fever [Image Courtesy: Biotrap ] Biotraps...