Prior to Vietnam, the network has been operating in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“MAIN will be the first organisation of its kind to invest in Mekong sub-region’s startups. It will also provide incubation services with a goal of incubating 30 companies and mentoring 20 companies,” said a press release about the programme.
Angel investors committed to the MAIN network include various serial entrepreneurs across the Asia Pacific, Europe and the US.
An initiative supported by the government of Australia, investors joining MAIN are veterans Benni Aroni and Melbourne’s first venture accelerator AngelCube founder, Adrian Stone. Steve Landman, CEO of Lotus Impact Fund, joins five US investors. Meanwhile, Vietnamese investors include lawyer Dinh Thi Quynh Nhu, Nguyen Tien Trung, founder of the National Startup Consulting and Investment JSC, and Phan Tuan Anh, founder of Angels4us. The latter two are also partners of the Finland’s Innovation Partnership Programme in Vietnam.
MAIN will recruit additional investors from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
“Angel investing is a vital source of risk or equity capital to startups and small and medium-sized businesses. MAIN will facilitate the entry of foreign angels in Vietnam, match them with local groups, and maximize linkages between angel groups and businesses,” said Dominic Mellor, executive director of the Mekong Business Initiative. “We want to promote a culture of ethical investment across the Mekong Region.”
The Asian Development Bank’s business programme is also a sponsor of the Danang Startup Fair, the inaugural event in the central region of Vietnam, where local startup hubs are considered to be in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The Mekong Angel Network was announced at the Danang Startup Fair over the weekend.
“The one-day exhibition and conference is a milestone in Danang’s strategy to become a hub for startups in Vietnam,” the release said.
Meanwhile, Lotus Impact, with its two-division operation of incubation and venture capital, launched Lotus Hub within the University of Danang in 2015, before it opened the second centre in Hanoi earlier this year.
While the Lotus Hub provides incubation and advisory services, Lotus Fund has invested in some Vietnamese startups like KOTO Catering, SME support portal MyVietnamCFO.com, and healthcare app Songkhoeplus.