Indonesia’s Bukalapak bags strategic funding from BRI Ventures

Photo: Bukalapak

Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Bukalapak has raised an undisclosed amount in what seems to be a strategic investment from BRI Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Bank BRI.

The announcement came in a day after Reuters reported that Bukalapak garnered $234 million in capital from tech giant Microsoft, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, and local media conglomerate Emtek.

The transaction with BRI Ventures will entail a partnership that will see the MSME-focused bank offer its digital banking and lending products to merchants and customers on the Bukalapak platform.

Currently, there are over 13.5 million local MSMEs registered with Bukalapak. The deal, says BRI Ventures, is in line with Bank BRI’s mission to bolster and digitise micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) throughout the country.

According to data available with the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs contribute a staggering 60.34% to the nation’s GDP and absorb 58.18% of the total investment in the country.

The rapid development in Indonesia’s tech sector has helped digitise MSMEs, which in turn has enabled them to grow and become more resilient amidst an economic downturn. Data from the central bank shows that 27.6% of MSMEs operating online actually saw sales increase in 2020.

“We know that through Bukalapak, BRI Group can also offer accessible business support to any small business, no matter where they are in the country. I’m confident that local, digital MSMEs will soon be more resilient and sustainable than ever before,” said BRI Ventures CEO Nicko Widjaja.

Having set out as an e-commerce marketplace in 2009, Bukalapak subsequently forayed into fintech and digital services. In 2018, it became the fourth Indonesian tech startup to touch the $1 billion valuation mark, thereby attaining the unicorn status.

Through its online-to-offline platform Mitra Bukalapak, the company claims to have registered more than 13.5 million MSMEs and over 100 million users throughout the archipelago.

Over the past few years, Bukalapak has undertaken aggressive expansion plans. In 2019, the company launched its B2B e-procurement business unit through BukaPengadaan Indonesia. It also rolled out its signature platform for buying and selling mutual funds (BukaReksa).

With the backing of prominent investors such as Emtek, GIC, and Shinhan, Bukalapak has managed to establish itself as one of the top e-commerce brands in Indonesia, though it sees stiff competition from cash-rich competitors Tokopedia and Shopee.

In the offline-to-online commerce space, where it is considered a leading player, Bukalapak is staring at increased competition from the likes of Ula, Gudagada and Warung Pintar, apart from fellow unicorns such as Tokopedia, Grab and Gojek who have also jumped on to the bandwagon.

Bukalapak, as DealStreetAsia had previously reported, is understood to be eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) as early as the third quarter of this year.

It is also understood to be weighing a US listing proposition via the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) route, as reported by Bloomberg previously. Bukalapak could be valued at $4-5 billion in a potential SPAC merger, the report had stated, citing sources.

Earlier today, we reported that Bukalapak’s largest shareholder, Emtek, has received an investment from SPAC merger-bound Grab, which could potentially spell some synergies between Bukalapak and the Southeast Asian super app.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.