The firm will invest in the burgeoning startup ecosystem in Vietnam to help nurture the next line of unicorns in the country.
Grab did not comment on the development for this story. It had on a call for the second intake of startups for the Grab Ventures Velocity programme indicated that it would undertake venture capital fund activity in Vietnam. It, however, did not specify a timeline.
The company’s plan follows an August 2018 announcement that Grab will invest $250 million in Indonesia through its venture capital arm.
With this, Vietnam will be the second country where Grab will be launching Grab Ventures outside its headquarters. It is understood that Grab Ventures has not hired a local investment team yet.
Last month, Grab said that it had started receiving applications from regional startups for its second Velocity batch programme. Velocity is Grab Ventures’ flagship scale-up programme for post-seed startups, while the fund invests in later-stage deals.
In June 2018, Grab launched Grab Ventures to focus on investments in sectors such as transportation, logistics, food and fintech across Southeast Asia. Grab’s venture capital activity in Vietnam will resemble the types of funding it has done so far, which include direct investments into startups as well as a partnership with government bodies, another person familiar with the development said.
In Singapore, it has partnered with the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore, Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Economic Development Board and EDBI.
Grab said while launching Grab Ventures in 2018 that it looked to partner with 8 to 10 growth-stage startups over the course of two years and may invest in select startups that exhibit strong synergies with the firm.
The venture arm has so far backed/ acquired Kudo, Drive.ai, iKaaz and HappyFresh. The VC fund has not made any investment in Vietnam yet. Grab had earlier invested in Vietnamese e-wallet Moca through a share swap with Moca’s early investors.
Jerry Lim, Vietnam country head for Grab, reportedly said in January this year that he expected Grab Ventures would come to Vietnam to provide stronger support for local startups.
Vietnam is increasingly garnering attention from regional investors in the tech space. In 2018, over half of the funding deals still remained pre-seed and seed rounds. Series A and B investments accounted for only about 25 per cent of the total deal counts, according to a Topica Founder Institute report.
With Grab Ventures, it will partly help narrow that gap.
Vietnam has become an important market for a lot of regional companies. In addition to basic transportation services, the ride-hailing decacorn has kicked off more financial services in Vietnam after acquiring Moca. Its local users are now allowed to top up mobile accounts and pay for purchases and bills.