Forte Insurance to join forces with Smart Axiata and Mekong Strategic Partners on Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund
Joonaak Delivery, Morakot Technology and Aniwaa announced as first batch of investees
Phnom Penh, 14th November 2017: Smart Axiata announced that regional insurance provider Forte Insurance will join the Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (“SADIF”) as co-investor to help spur Cambodia’s digital economy. The first three investees to receive a share of the 5 Million USD digital venture capital fund were also unveiled, with e-commerce delivery and logistics solutions company, Joonaak Delivery Co., Ltd., core banking software platform company, Morakot Technology, and 3D printing experts, Aniwaa, selected by the SADIF Investment Committee.
SADIF, created by the country’s leading mobile operator Smart and managed by investment and advisory firm Mekong Strategic Partners (MSP), was established earlier this year to invest and provide strategic insights into creative and dynamic Cambodian-based digital businesses. It promises to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and provides vital funds to the rapidly-growing ICT industry.
“We are delighted to welcome our new partner, Forte, who as one of the most successful and innovative insurance platforms in Cambodia, will provide a unique and complementary skill set to the SADIF team. Having this diversity in the Investment Committee will further solidify the Fund as a prime enabler in the digital ecosystem,” said Thomas Hundt, Smart Axiata CEO.
“Following months of diligent review of the applications we received, we are also pleased to unveil Joonaak, Morakot and Aniwaa as the first companies to receive funding from SADIF. Smart is at the center of Cambodia’s digital revolution and we look forward to working with these innovative companies to develop and grow their digital businesses. I can’t wait to see these investments taking shape!” Thomas added.
Forte, the insurance industry leader since 2003 and recognized for its innovative, specialized products that cater to the needs of the local market, shares the same vision and belief as its partners that the Cambodian ICT ecosystem will thrive upon investment and strategic support like that of SADIF.
“We are joining forces with Smart and MSP in this digital innovation fund because we are confident that Cambodia’s digital economy is primed to grow in the next few years. We are enthusiastic to support that growth by partnering with these companies, who like Forte, show every day what successful innovation and digital disruption looks like,” said Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance.
Along with the added co-investment to SADIF, Forte will be represented at the Investment Committee by Mervyn Cheo, CEO of Forte Investment Holdings.
Joonaak, Morakot and Aniwaa, the first investees of many more to come, were selected by Smart and MSP based on their current business and potential for growth.
“We look for businesses where funding could have immediate positive impact and where the markets are ripe for emerging technologies. The three who made the cut this round are both well-positioned to go to the next level, and we are confident that the investment as well as the strategic inputs and business development from Smart, Forte and MSP will supercharge their next phase of growth,” said Kem Bora, Investment Manager of MSP.
Joonaak offers digital support to online retailers as well as warehousing, delivery and customer support services in an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment in Cambodia. “We are thrilled to start working with Smart, Forte and MSP to help develop our business in a way that we might not be able to do on our own. The investment value of such partnerships from innovative and forward-looking companies is not just about funding – which is also hugely helpful of course,” explained Joonaak’s CEO, Jay Kong.
For Morakot , a software and digital support company that focuses on back- and front-office support for Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), the funds from SADIF will help them explore new markets in ASEAN where microfinance lenders face similar challenges to their Cambodian counterparts.
“Having worked in microfinance, I saw firsthand how operations were hampered by a lack of tailor-made and affordable software to support loan officers, back-offices and front-offices. Morakot has started to address that with a suite of software that we are confident will be of value in other businesses and countries. Working on this next step is very exciting for us and we can’t wait to get started,” said Morakot’s CEO Sophorth Khuon.
Aniwaa , which runs one of the largest 3D printer comparison website in the world, is looking for SADIF to help them transform into a global digital content platform, which thousands of visitors use every day to find the right 3D printing and emerging tech products.
“With this equity partnership from SADIF, we will be in a stronger position to build a world-class content team. We will also strengthen our sites and rich database capabilities. We aim to bring cutting edge tech hardware information for an audience of technophiles, hungry for the latest developments,” said CEO Martin Lansard, a former Google employee who set up and run Aniwaa in Cambodia.
The scale or nature of funding for Morakot, Joonaak and Aniwaa was not revealed during the announcement. However, during the SADIF launch in March 2017, both Smart and MSP shared that investments from the Fund will range from 25,000 USD to 500,000 USD depending on the stage, industry and funding requirements of the companies. The investment will be bolstered by cutting-edge support through mentoring, knowledge sharing and business development which will form a critical component of the process.
Smart, MSP and now Forte, which form the Investment Committee expects to continue evaluating a large number of applications for funding and announce more investments into Cambodia’s booming ICT sector and power the country’s digital economy to the next level during the coming months.