RHL Ventures set ups US$24 million fund for Malaysian startups, SMEs

Wed Apr 17, 2019 - 7:07am UTC
RHL Ventures
From left to right- Teng Chen Shun (Venture Partner), Jo Jo Kong (General Partner), Rachel Lau (Managing Partner), Tengku Ahmad Ridhwanuddin (Tech Partner), Raja Hamzah Abidin (Managing Partner)
RHL Ventures
From left to right- Teng Chen Shun (Venture Partner), Jo Jo Kong (General Partner), Rachel Lau (Managing Partner), Tengku Ahmad Ridhwanuddin (Tech Partner), Raja Hamzah Abidin (Managing Partner)

17/4/2019 – RHL Ventures, a venture capital and multi-family private investment firm based in Malaysia has launched a RM100 million (about US$24.2 million) fund to support the growth of local startups as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The fund is anchored by SME Corp. Malaysia, a government agency under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development which promotes and drive the SME sector.

The two inked a deal on a 1-to-1 matching basis, in which SME Corp. was believed to have invested an amount in the RM45 million (about US$10.9 million) range.

Raja Hamzah from RHL Ventures said the fund will write cheques ranging from RM500K up to RM10 million (with opportunities for follow-up investment) focusing on Malaysian startups and early-stage SMEs with significant operations in Malaysia.

Despite the VC firm previous investments being largely centered on innovative startups within the tech space, the focus of the firm’s latest fund will be broader and more sector-agnostic.

Rachel Lau, the Managing Partner at RHL Ventures said, the firm will be looking at several criteria for each investment that it makes, considering the size of the market, the capability of the product in disrupting the market, as well as the traits of the founders, if they are smart, cost-driven, transparent, and visionary.

“Ever since we started RHL Ventures, we have been inspired by how small businesses – even those with the humblest of beginnings – can make transformational impact in their industries and the greater economy,” said Lau.

RHL Ventures’ latest fund will serve to highlight how partnerships between the government and the private sector are crucial to the growth of Malaysian SMEs for sustainable development in light of the digital economy as well as the creation of more avenues for regional expansion.

“The government has typically led investments that support local businesses during their early stages, so we are glad that the current administration is ramping up its support to instil more innovation within the local business sector,” added Lau.

To date, RHL Ventures has invested in several local businesses including healthcare SaaS startup HealthMetrics, e-commerce platform Signature Market, and interior design marketplace Atap.co.

“In Malaysia, SMEs comprise over 98 percent of total business establishments and contribute more than 37 percent to the national GDP – they form a central pillar of Malaysia’s economy.”

“To ensure a higher contribution of SMEs to the national economy, there is a need for more concerted efforts to be affected by stakeholders within the SME ecosystem,” said SME Corp. CEO Noor Azmi Mat Said.

Founded in 2016, RHL Ventures is currently led by Rachel Lau, Raja Hamzah Abidin and Jo Jo Kong, with an investment focus on ASEAN-linked startups as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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.