IFC Invests in SeedPlus to ‘boost technology entrepreneurship’ in Asia
March 16, 2017 15:03 By The Nation
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, on Thursday announced a $2 million (Bt70 billion) equity investment in SeedPlus, a seed-stage venture fund based in Singapore, to support early-stage technology entrepreneurship in Asia.
SeedPlus was launched by Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, in collaboration with SGInnovate, Accel Partners (India) and Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates, among others.
Supported by Google and PwC Singapore, it is focused on “investing in and helping build Asia’s most disruptive start-ups across software-as-a-service, mobile, financial technology, artificial intelligence and cyber security and other emerging technology areas”. SeedPlus will invest up to $1 million in each startup in Asia.
The investment falls under the IFC Startup Catalyst programme, which supports entrepreneurs and early stage companies through investments in various seed stage structures.
IFC said its investment will help SeedPlus support up to 20 early stage companies, helping fill the early-stage capital funding gap for high growth companies. The programme will also create hundreds of jobs and through its acceleration cycles, support local entrepreneurship, the firm said.
“The SeedPlus investment aligns with IFC’s venture capital group’s strategy to invest in innovative technology companies across emerging markets. Today, there are several fast-evolving, transformative technologies disrupting key industry sectors, enabling entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish in emerging markets, particularly in Southeast Asia, which we see as a growing market for us this year,” said Pravan Malhotra, IFC’s venture capital lead for Southeast Asia and Asia Internet investments.
Rana Karadsheh, IFC’s country manager for Singapore, said: “Singapore's role as Southeast Asia’s hub for venture funding and tech talent will only continue to grow, and amid this landscape IFC can play an increasingly vital role as a seasoned investor and adviser. The platform also aligns with IFC’s approach to build and support local, sustainable ecosystems for entrepreneurship and venture capital in emerging markets.
“IFC’s funding and direct investments in portfolio companies will boost seed capital availability, mobilise institutional capital and will better position companies for follow-on funding, sustainability, and job creation.”
SeedPlus said its is focused on investing in companies that target large addressable markets in Asia and have the ability to expand on a global scale.
Recent examples include Moglix, an Indian business-to-business e-commerce platform specialising in the maintenance, repair and operations industry, and Mimetic.ai, a Singaporean technology startup responsible for creating Evie, an artificial intelligence scheduling assistant.
“Venture funding is more than just the capital; it is about finding the right partners for your business. From Day 1, not only have SeedPlus been trusted advisers, they have also rolled up their sleeves to lend their deep operational expertise. That’s real partnership, and we feel very privileged to be part of the SeedPlus team of companies,” said Praveen Velu, co-founder of Mimetic.ai.