JG Summit sets up US$50 million JG DEV fund to invest in Southeast Asia startups

Mon May 13, 2019 - 4:58am UTC

JG Summit Holdings

13/5/2019 – JG Summit Holdings, one of the largest listed conglomerates in the Philippines has launched a US$50 million fund to invest in tech startups across Southeast Asia that are set to augment or disrupt its core business.

The fund is known as JG Digital Equity Ventures (JG DEV) and will focus on industries that intersect with JG Summit Holdings’ ecosystem, specifically targeting digital ventures and emerging tech across Southeast Asia.

These include companies operating within the data, financial services, consumer sector, new media, logistics, and digital health sectors, said JG DEV Chief Executive Officer Bach Johann Sebastian.

“JG is known to have very strong offline businesses. Our group is behind the pack in this digital journey, so our challenge is to leapfrog from where we are,” said Sebastian.

The company will be writing cheques ranging from US$1 million to US$10 million in Series A and Series B rounds of startups, as well as in successful portfolio companies that are raising funding at later stages.

Prior to the creation of this new unit, JG Summit has already made at least US$40 million worth of investments in technology startups which includes SEA Ltd, the operator behind ecommerce startups Garena and Shopee, as well as Oriente, a digital lender operating in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

“Digital is a key pillar to JG’s future. There is no shortage of ideas in the digital space, so we must focus on a few big bets that generate the most value,” Gokongwei said.

So far, JG DEV has already made a few investments including:

  • Cashalo – a mobile app which allows users to access online and offline financing
  • Growsari – a startup which links up over a million sari-sari stores directly with suppliers
  • Snapcart – an app that provides analytics services to brands by processing offline data like grocery receipts

Although new to the game, JG DEV expects to work for its advantage its parent firm’s ecosystem and its team’s bias towards execution and operations.

While investing in startups, JG DEV also intends to build digital businesses in-house and enter into joint ventures that play off its Philippines’ ecosystem that includes Cebu Pacific, Robinsons Retail, Universal Robina Corp. and Robinsons Land.

It is putting together teams of product managers, software engineers, data specialists, investment professionals, and other digital talent who will be working in an environment that favors being scrappy, smart and imaginative.

Estrada, one of the country’s fintech pioneers, commented that JG DEV will go beyond the traditional expectations of a typical VC firm. The approach, he said, would be not just to invest but also to build ventures.

“Given the unique combination of the JG’s extensive ecosystem, massive customer base and its forward-thinking leadership, I’m confident that JG DEV will emerge as a digital leader in Asia,” said Ian Estrada, the Chief Operating Officer of JG DEV.

This news is published on Reuters.

Vivian Foo is a reporter who writes about Southeast Asia’s technology and startup space. The entry point which led her to write about the startup ecosystem was her fascination of the dot-com boom. She is taking a deep dive into how the entrepreneurial mindset works and hopes to share the insights, innovation, and stories of the startups with her readers.