Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s DICT eyeing MSME-centric online shopping platform

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) government agency is eyeing an online shopping platform dedicated to the country’s micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Philippine News Agency (PNA) first reported.

According to DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy, said platform would provide a complete e-commerce “ecosystem” from sourcing of raw materials, global digital marketing, as well as an e-payment system.

The platform, which will be operated in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), would be similar to other online shopping platforms such as Shopee and Alibaba.

“This will be integrated — they won’t have to worry about how would they transform their business from a brick-and-mortar into an e-commerce-enabled business. This will bring them up, make them more, and will become a major player. Because MSMEs have always been a major player in our economy,” Uy said.

He also added that the government would design the platform and the MSMEs would simply need to ‘register and be onboard’.

“They haven’t been able to shift their business into the e-commerce platform because of challenges. We’re here, and we’ll solve those challenges for them and make it easier for them to do,” Uy said.

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

Wholesale digital-only bank Green Link Digital Bank commences business in Singapore

Singapore – Green Link Digital Bank (GLDB) commences banking business in Singapore, to serve Micro-Small-Medium-Enterprises (MSMEs) with banking and financial services through their supply chain financing and innovative, easy-to-use technological solutions. Supply chain financing and innovative, easy-to-use technology will be used by GLDB to provide accessible commercial banking, as well as supply chain offerings for underserved MSMEs.

By expanding their service area and developing new supply chain finance solutions, GLDB aims to better meet the needs of a wide range of businesses, especially those in high-growth industries in the digital economy.

Dr. Geng Jing, chairman of GLDB, said, “The commencement of Green Link Digital Bank’s operations in Singapore symbolises a major milestone. It drives to strengthen the core pillars in digitalisation, technological empowerment and green finance. We aspire to be one of the key contributors towards digital economy advancements in Singapore and hope to play a significant role in cultivating an open digital finance ecosystem in Singapore.

GLDB will enhance their focus on serving the core needs of MSMEs and technology enterprises, improve on service quality, and pave the way for them to become a leader in wholesale banking.

Song Qun, vice chairman of GLD, shared, “We hope to bring cutting-edge financial technology and experience in serving MSMEs in Singapore and are committed to being the leading supply chain finance technology solution provider. We will continue to explore the application of advanced technologies such as AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data (ABCD) in supply chain finance, incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into our product development and growth strategies, and create a digital banking industry benchmark, contribute to the Singapore market, and realise sustainable growth.”

Meanwhile, Goh Soon Hong, executive director and CEO of GLDB, commented, “We are excited to begin working with our customers in Singapore. We look forward to becoming their most trusted partner by growing with them, serving them with our digital solutions, connecting them with the right partners, and enabling them to embrace greater supply chain sustainability. We look forward to creating strong, long-lasting relationships with business and work with other supply chain financing platforms in Singapore.”

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

ANEXT Bank launches as Singapore’s newest digital wholesale bank for MSMEs

Singapore – ANEXT Bank, a digital wholesale bank in Singapore under Ant Group, has announced its soft launch. This follows its receipt of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) approval to commence business on 2 June 2022. 

The new digital bank will focus on providing digital financial services to local and regional MSMEs, especially those engaging in cross-border operations for growth and global expansion.

Toh Su Mei, ANEXT Bank’s CEO, believes that it’s time to offer the next generation of financial services that are accessible and effortless for growing businesses, and financial services have to evolve and be where SMEs are doing their businesses digitally.

“We are well-positioned to live up to this vision, leveraging Ant Group’s deep bench of technologies and know-how, along with our customer-obsessed local team dedicated to serving the SME community. Adopting an open and collaborative approach, we believe in joining hands with industry partners and the public sector to provide SMEs with financial services that are simpler, safer and more rewarding,” she said

Meanwhile, Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer at MAS, said that this marks yet another milestone in Singapore’s digital bank development journey, a strategic effort to ensure the banking sector remains progressive, globally competitive and vibrant. 

“MAS expects the digital banks to thrive and synergise with our dynamic financial institutions and raise the bar in delivering quality financial services and uplift Singapore’s financial sector to better support the growth of SMEs in Singapore, the region and in emerging markets,” added Mohanty.

ANEXT Bank has also signed a two-year MoU with Proxtera – the entity supported by MAS, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and private sector entities, to transform and enable holistic cross-border trade amongst SMEs and businesses by making marketplaces efficient and discoverable globally, with embedded financing, fulfilment services, and SME empowerment.

The MoU will see both organisations jointly create and establish an open framework for all participating financial institutions as they provide financing and risk mitigation support for SMEs and platforms in global trades. ANEXT Bank will also be Proxtera’s first participating digital wholesale bank in Singapore to lead the way in providing financing solutions to the buyers and sellers on Proxtera’s network.

Saurav Bhattacharyya, Proxtera’s CEO, shared that their commitment is to simplify global trade for SMEs and uplift them with the power of networks, leveraging modern technology to improve discoverability, accessibility, availability, and affordability of innovative digital services. 

“This mission is closely aligned with ANEXT Bank’s focus to serve SMEs engaging in cross-border operations. Together with ANEXT Bank’s digital-born identity and digital-first capabilities and services, I’m confident that we can make trade easier, more seamless and efficient for SMEs,” said Bhattacharyya.

As part of its soft launch, ANEXT Bank has provided a preview of the ANEXT Business Account, a dual-currency deposit account with proprietary security measures including three-factor authentication verification, as well as features, such as remote onboarding and daily interest. 

The bank is also calling on SMEs to share their thoughts on what they hope to see in financial services – it recognises in order to bring about what’s next in financial services, it starts with the needs of SMEs. Entries, as well as registrations of interest to open an account, are available from today via its website www.ANEXT.com.sg. The ANEXT Business Account will be made available to the general SME community in the third quarter of 2022.

Categories
Platforms Featured South Asia

Inditrade now live on Scienaptic’s credit decisioning platform

Bangalore, India Global AI-powered credit decisioning platform provider Scienaptic AI has announced that Inditrade Capital, India’s digitally enabled lending, insurance and rural marketing enterprise is live on its platform. Through bureau, banking, and financial data, the Scienaptic platform can reliably estimate a customer’s risk level, as well as Scienaptic’s industry-tested expert scorecards. By using this solution, the Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprise (MSME) sector in India will be able to grow more quickly and more effectively.

Inditrade Capital leverages technology to enable progress for the under-served and marginalised. With an aim to create a sustainable social impact at the grass-root level of India’s enterprise ecosystem, Inditrade has lent over INR28B in cumulative loans to over 400,000 customers. Inditrade offers a Phygital channel to ensure last-mile connectivity. By enabling Scienaptic’s AI-powered credit underwriting platform and industry-tested expert scorecards, they will be able to provide better and faster credit access to a wider cross-section of the society and empower the 63 million MSMEs in India that often have limited access to financial assistance.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay, group chairman of Inditrade Group of Companies, shared, “When we see an individual’s entrepreneurial dreams actualizing, it is extremely satisfying. A young woman pressed by financial shortcomings and personal losses, getting back on her feet and supporting her family with the help of our MSME loan is extremely uplifting.” 

Bandyopadhyay added, “Scienaptic’s credit decisioning solution is now helping us make the most of our customer’s information to understand our customers’ risk better. As a result, we will be able to provide our customers with the right amount of credit, while ensuring our portfolio losses are minimised.”

Meanwhile, Joydip Gupta, APAC head of Scienaptic, commented, “It is an exciting time for FinTech in India. As an industry leader, Inditrade Capital provides the perfect platform for Indian citizens and MSMEs across urban and rural areas to achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations. Our credit underwriting platform along with our AI-based scorecards will enable Inditrade to extend its loans to more individuals and businesses who are often ignored under the traditional financial system, while balancing growth and profitability.”

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH MSME enabler GrowSari secures fresh funding for nat’l expansion

Manila, Philippines – GrowSari, the local B2B e-commerce platform that serves sari-sari stores or local mom-and-pop stores in the Philippines, has raised US$77.5m as part of its Series C funding, bringing its total funding to around US$110m. This newly secured fund will be used in accelerating GrowSari’s national expansion. 

According to Growsari, from a base of 1,000 sari-sari stores in three cities back in 2018, the platform has grown to service more than 100,000 stores in over 220 municipalities across Luzon. In addition, it has expanded rapidly and further into other MSMEs/non-sari-sari store formats nationwide over the last 12 months.

Reymund ‘ER’ Rollan, GrowSari’s CEO and co-founder, believes that not only will this funding allow them to fuel their growth, but this will also help them bring top global quality talent in operations, technology, and data science into the startup ecosystem of the Philippines.

“We are strategic in choosing investors, and we have deepened our partnership with those who can support this next phase of growth, on the core as well as financial services. We remain open to partnering with all other local and international companies as we transform this MSME space,” said Rollan.

Meanwhile, Siddhartha Kongara, GrowSari’s CTO and co-founder, shared that they have already launched in the Visayas, with Iloilo as the first city, and will launch in Mindanao soon, and they also have the largest B2B fulfilment network and will have 50-plus fulfilment centres nationwide.

“We are also fast progressing on our vision to use the GrowSari technology stack to help other companies in their logistics and e-commerce journeys. We already have more than 10 traditional companies that are leveraging the platforms to improve their business operations,” said Kongara.

This round’s funding was joined by investors International Finance Corporation (IFC), KKR, which led the Series C round, and Pavilion Capital of the Temasek Group, along with almost all existing investors. GrowSari is also in talks for the next round of funding, as there is a significant demand from marquee funds.

Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC’s senior vice president of operations, said, “Our investment will enable Growsari to expand digital adoption and financial services for MSMEs, which is critical to keep them competitive, and for a resilient and inclusive recovery.”

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH trade body partners with 1Export to introduce local MSME products globally

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Trade of Industry (DTI) in the Philippines has partnered with cross-border trade platform 1Export to introduce locally-made products from MSMEs to the global market. This is done through DTI’s ‘Go Lokal!’ program that targets local MSMEs to make their products more accessible to new markets.

The partnership also includes the utilisation of 1Export’s ‘Kalocal’, a platform where you can order export-ready Filipino products at wholesale prices. Said platform aims to help Filipino communities abroad who want to start their own business through importing and reselling products directly from local producers and manufacturers by offering competitive pricing for a wide variety of products – from heritage to novelty, from premium to popular and fast-moving brands.

For this year, DTI and 1Export will be launching the ‘’Go Lokal Surprise Box’ — a curated gift box containing Filipino products that will be made available, initially in the USA and Canada. Every product highlights a unique story of being proudly and passionately made by MSMEs in the Philippines.

“This promotional initiative will help MSMEs transition to cross-border trade as it provides the opportunity for the world to discover Filipino culture through artisanal handicrafts and delectable treats. This 2022, try Go Lokal products and join us in our journey to empower our local MSMEs,” DTI said in a press statement.

Since its inception in 2016, the ‘Go Lokal!’ program has partnered with 24 retailers, rolled out 154 stores nationwide, and assisted 859 MSMEs of which 385 have become regular suppliers of partner retailers. To date, the program has generated sales amounting to PHP 428m.

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

Zilingo launches new solution in PH for digitization of SMEs’ distribution

Manila, Philippines – B2B tech platform Zilingo which offers commerce solutions to businesses and retailers, has launched Zilingo Digitize in the Philippines. The new solution is a cloud-based SaaS to help brands & distributors digitize their distribution needs. 

Zilingo Digitize adds to the line of product offerings of the tech platform which includes, among others, Zilingo Trade, which aims to bring a seamless process in the bulk-buying and -selling of ready-made (RMG) and made-to-order (MTO) goods as well as Zilingo Factory, an MES software for the garment industry that helps factories increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Shiela Mauricio, the platform’s country manager in the Philippines, said that Zilingo is reimagining the entire supply chain and is aggregating all parties within the same platform by offering services and software that can help businesses do better. 

“This has been the brand’s focus since day one,” Mauricio said.

Meanwhile, Dhruv Kapoor, the co-founder & CTPO of Zilingo, said that the company remains committed to bringing new tools, technology, and innovation that will unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in the Philippines, boost exports from the country and build greater supply chain transparency to reduce cost and wastage.

“With the internet and technology becoming an integral part of our lives, we see a massive opportunity to empower MSMEs across the country and Zilingo is dedicated to being a catalyst for progress and innovation,” said Kapoor. 

The platform further comments that with its direct access to raw material suppliers, manufacturers, and brands, it is able to offer MSMEs the means to achieve product quality, quantity, and availability, and better pricing models.

Categories
Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Shopee launches #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair for Filipino businesses

Manila, Philippines – E-commerce platform Shopee is set to launch #TatakPinoy (Filipino branded) Virtual Trade Fair, a virtual fair aiming to promote Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

The three-day event which is slated for February 19- 21, is in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and sets the stage for shoppers to discover and purchase local delicacies and pasalubong items from Regions XII and IV-A. They can also anticipate products from Filipina-owned businesses, as Shopee and United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) team up to empower local female entrepreneurs.

Amid the lockdown, Shopee helped physical businesses to transition to digital through its Seller Masterclasses and has previously partnered with DTI, USAID, and local government units in the country for initiatives that helped Filipino entrepreneurs gain a basic understanding of e-commerce and digital marketing. 

DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion said in a statement, “The Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion is proud to be a partner for #TatakPinoy on Shopee. This initiative will connect thousands of consumers to more than a hundred MSMEs on one platform. We invite Filipinos from all over the country to patronize and take pride in products that are certified #TatakPinoy from the National Trade Fair Pop-up Store and Go Lokal! Shopee Mall.”

Meanwhile, Martin Yu, Shopee Philippines’ director, commented, “Local brands from microbusinesses to SMEs can all contribute to the Philippine economy’s growth. Considering that most local businesses still can’t promote their products outside of online platforms due to the pandemic, Shopee also wants to create the opportunity to showcase the best Filipino brands.”

During the event, exclusive discounts of up to 10% off on supporting Filipino brands such as Colourette, Vice Cosmetics, and Human Nature will be offered to shoppers.

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

Non-profit data protection org to host scholarship training program for Filipino MSMEs

Manila, Philippines – The National Association of Data Protection Officers of the Philippines, or NADPOP, an organization in the country for data privacy and protection, has announced a training and certification program for Filipino micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on data privacy and protection fundamentals to help them manage the privacy of their customers online and offline.

The program, which equates to ₱3.8M in total value, is specifically targeted to members of BounceBack PH (BBPH), a movement that started on Facebook and was created during the onset of the pandemic to help entrepreneurs, front-liners, and disadvantaged communities in their recovery from the crisis. Currently, it has more than 70,000 members with industry verticals communities and regional and city-based groups.

NADPOP, which is a non-profit organization that serves and protects Data Protection Officers (DPO) in the Philippines, will work together with BBPH to identify a total of 100 recipients of the program and will make the announcement in the coming weeks. Each of the scholarships is worth at least ₱38,000 based on commercial rates. 

NADPOP together with BBPH partner, Bluepoint Foundation, a non-profit open-source education & development center, will be providing the eLearning infrastructure for the program.

According to Sam Jacoba, NADPOP’s founding president, most MSMEs have less than five full-time employees, making the training program a top necessity for businesses’ online transformation journey.

“The shift of businesses online has exponentially increased the reach of MSMEs which brought a lot of opportunities, but at the same time, this increased the risk of their customer databases being breached by hackers,” said Jacoba. 

NADPOP will be conducting four classes with 25 participants each. Primarily, the scholarships will be given to active members of BBPH and its communities. Those that are deemed qualified for the program are those that have an ongoing business, are currently financially-challenged, are diligent with their business requirements, and are ultimately those that are seen to implement what they will learn from the course. 

Once participants have finished the course, they will have to take a certification exam, and once passed, will gain a Data Privacy Specialist certification valid for two years.

“We welcome this generous support to our MSME members from NADPOP as now more than ever, protecting the personal information of customers should be top of mind of all entrepreneurs going online,” commented Jason Dela Rosa, founder of BBPH

“We also welcome the scholarships that NADPOP is going to provide to our members who will not be able to afford the training especially during this time of the pandemic. We thank NADPOP for responding to the call of the Digital Bayanihan Initiative of BBPH, which aims to help our members be better than ever and shine through the pandemic,” added Dela Rosa. 

BBPH members who won’t be selected for the 100 scholarship grants can still avail of NADPOP’s Data Privacy training and certification program which will be afforded on a competitive rate exclusive to active members of the community. All participants of the program will then be part of a ‘Community of Practice’ of data privacy and protection practitioners, whom they can consult with as they continue with their online transformation efforts. 

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia APAC

Visa invites PH, other APAC start-ups to join new accelerator program

Manila, Philippines – Digital payment company Visa has announced the launch of their newest accelerator program for APAC start-ups in expanding their business reach to a global level.

The new “Visa Accelerator Program” will focus on making selected start-ups be connected with bank and merchant partners of Visa globally through commercial opportunity collaborations. Furthermore, the accelerator program is designed for start-ups that have built a consumer base in their home country, and are ready to enter new geographical and consumer regions.

“In Visa’s ongoing work with the startup community, we often see companies face challenges when taking their business from a local success story to becoming a player in multiple markets. There is a vibrant fintech ecosystem in the Philippines. At Visa, we have global expertise that can help startups take their expansion plans off the white board and into the real world. We encourage Philippine startups who want to partner with us to join this program so we can help them scale,” said Dan Wolbert, Visa country manager for the Philippines & Guam.

Areas of interest that Visa wants the participating start-ups to address are as follows:

  • Expand access to the digital economy to consumers and businesses that are underserved or cash-dependent
  • Support of small businesses as they struggle with changing technology demands and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Leveraging the growing open data environment in the region to develop more personalized banking and shopping experiences
  • Developing new ways of moving money that aren’t dependent on traditional credit and debit cards

“There is no shortage of fantastic solutions coming out of the Asia Pacific, particularly the Philippine startup community. What’s most important to Visa is how we can support those solutions getting elevated to a stage where in a few months’ time they could be pitched as a commercial deal to a leading bank, retailer or technology company in the region. A big differentiator for the Visa Accelerator Program is our concentration on a small number of startups that are truly ready to unlock that next level,” Wolbert added.