As of 14 November 2017, the Kingdom’s largest and leading regional insurance provider since 2003, Forte Insurance, has joined forces with powerhouses, Smart Axiata and Mekong Strategic Partners (MSP) in their Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (SADIF) venture! Jumping on the bandwagon as a co-investor, this partnership serves as a means to propel Cambodia’s digital economy to even greater heights.
Launched earlier this year in March, SADIF is a venture capital fund with 5 million USD to invest in Cambodian-based, digital service companies and start-ups and aims to spur the digital ecosystem in the country. Following the brand new partnership with Forte Insurance, Thomas Hundt, Smart Axiata CEO shared, “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.”.
On the other hand, Forte shares the same vision and belief as its partners, Smart and MSP. The company similarly believes that the Cambodian ICT ecosystem will thrive upon investment and strategic support like that of SADIF, thus making them a more than fit partner for this fund!
“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 supp ort 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.
Besides that, the first 3 investees of the SADIF venture have been selected by the SADIF Investment Committee, based on their current business and potential for growth. In relation to the selection process, Kem Bora, Investment Manager of MSP, said, “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.”.
Ultimately, the starting investees of many more to come have been revealed to be e-commerce delivery and logistics solutions company, Joonaak Delivery Co., Ltd., core banking software platform company, Morakot Technology, and 3D printing experts, Aniwaa. Also, as part of SADIF, these 3 companies will receive a share of the 5 Million USD digital venture capital fund.
Looking more in-depth into each of the chosen businesses of SADIF, here is what each of the company’s representatives have to say:
Joonak offers digital support to online retailers as well as warehousing, delivery and customer support services in an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment in Cambodia.
As explained by Joonaak’s CEO, Jay Kong, “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.”.
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 venture into and explore new markets in the ASEAN region 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 globally, 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.
In conclusion, referring to the Fund’s new line of investees, Hundt highlighted, “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.
Though the scale or nature of funding for Morakot, Joonaak and Aniwaa was not explicitly stated during the announcement, it is known from the SADIF launch 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. Furthermore, the investment will be strongly supported by cutting-edge support through mentoring, knowledge sharing and business development; all critical components of the business process.
Here on out, the Investment Committee, comprising of Smart, MSP and now Forte, expect 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 in the months to come.
To read up on more information on and stay updated anything related to SADIF, follow Smart’s “Smart for Cambodia” Facebook page here or go to the SADIF page itself here. Also, you can catch the Facebook Live of the whole announcement right here.