Philippines-based Gentree Fund, the newly-launched investment vehicle of the Sy Family Office, has allocated an initial amount of $40 million to invest in Southeast Asian startups looking to expand into its home country.
The Sy family runs the retail giant SM Group in the Philippines as well as operates in the financial services, property development, logistics, and other sectors.
Gentree Fund vice president Mark Sng told DealStreetAsia that the vehicle is an evergreen fund and as such, the capital commitment of $40 million is more general guidance than a hard figure.
About $12 million of the initial fund has been deployed by the fund into its current portfolio of startups.
The sector-agnostic fund will provide startups across early and growth stages with the unique opportunity to connect with the Sy family’s businesses.
“We are financial investors but also allow our portfolio to collaborate commercially with SM Investment Corporation on an arms-length basis as a key value add we are able to offer,” Sng added.
He said the fund will make 12-14 direct portfolio investments, with ticket sizes between $1 million and $3 million. It will also actively engage with later-stage regional growth companies keen on accessing the Philippines market.
Since its launch in July 2020, Gentree has already backed six startups, with five of them operating in the Philippines. These include the e-commerce startup for mothers, Edamama; live-streaming platform Kumu; F&B software management provider Mosaic Solutions; proptech startup AQWire; and fintech firm NextPay.
It has also invested in Mobile Premier League, a real money gaming platform based in India.
“With over 70 million internet users in the Philippines, communication, entertainment, and skills-transformation have moved online and become key to daily routines. We hope to support their continued growth and drive greater choice for consumers and businesses in the Philippines and Southeast Asia,” Sng said.
Sng previously spearheaded the Singapore office launch for GoVentures. He was also part of Gojek’s corporate development team and part of the group that led the acquisition of Coins.ph in the Philippines.
The Gentree Fund will join a number of venture capital investors that have poured money into Philippine startups. In the first half of 2021 alone, 18 Philippines startups raised at least $279 million in venture funding, with technology firm Voyager Innovations bagging the largest amount of funding at $167 million.