For archipelagic countries such as Indonesia, where infrastructure and connectivity are among some of many challenges, rapid technological developments have paved the way to improve access to education. (Reuters Photo/Aly Song)

IFC Invests $2m Into Singapore's Venture Firm SeedPlus


MARCH 17, 2017

Jakarta. The International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment unit of the World Bank, has injected $2 million of equity investments into a Singapore-based seed stage venture firm, SeedPlus, to support early-stage technology entrepreneurship in Asia.

SeedPlus was launched in collaboration with various investment firms, including the Singaporean government-owned SGInnovate, venture capital firm Accel Partners India, Jungle Venture and RNT Associates, among others.

The investment falls under the framework of the IFC Startup Catalyst Program, which aims to support entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups through investment in a myriad of seed stage structures.

The IFC investment program will help SeedPlus fund at least 20 early stage companies throughout Asia, investing a total of $1 million for each start-up. The program is expected to create hundreds of jobs and support local entrepreneurs.

"The SeedPlus investment aligns with IFC’s Venture Capital group’s strategy to invest in innovative technology companies across emerging markets," Pravan Malhotra, IFC’s venture capital head for Southeast Asia and Asia Internet investments, said on Thursday (16/03).

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," Malhotra said.

SeedPlus, supported by tech giant Google and consulting firm PwC, is focused on investing in and helping build Asia’s most disruptive start-ups that have the ability to grow on a global scale, across software as a service, mobile, financial technology, artificial intelligence and cyber security among other emerging areas.

Recent start-ups that have received funding from SeedPlus include Moglix, an Indian-based e-commerce platform focused on the maintenance, repairs and operations industry; and, a Singaporean start-up that develops artificial intelligence.

"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 advisor," Rana Karadsheh, IFC’s country manager for Singapore.

"IFC’s funding and direct investments in portfolio companies will boost seed capital availability, mobilize institutional capital and will better position companies for follow-on funding, sustainability, and job creation," Karadsheh said.

The fund is run by three operating partners of Jungle Ventures— Michael Smith Jr, chief technology officer at the music streaming service HOOQ, former Spotify product manager Gabriel Lundberg and Tiang Lim Foo, former head of business development at Evernote, a cloud-based notepad app in the Asia Pacific region.

IFC previously invested $10 million into Jungle Ventures.