Myanmar: GSMA Innovation Fund awards six-digit grants to New Day, Kargo

Photo: Juliet Shwe Gaung. Sule Pagoda in Yangon.

The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, which provides equity-free grant funding to startups in Asia-Pacific and Africa, has chosen New Day (Neh Thit) and Kargo from Myanmar for a grant support worth six-digit dollars each, it announced in February.

The startups, part of the second batch of the innovation fund, were among 24 startups based in 15 markets around Africa and Asia Pacific, covering a range of sectors including health, insurance, logistics, using mobile innovation to solve local problems.

New Day or Neh Thit (in Myanmar language) is a platform where job seekers are connected to their future employers. The team is currently stationed in an Industrial zone in Yangon focusing more on garment workers seeking jobs. The company deploys chat-based technology using social networks to connect low and middle-income job seekers to potential employers.

New Day (Neh Thit) has received 126,000 pound ($175,000) as a grant from GSMA and will be able to leverage the networks and events of GSMA. This includes a Bootcamp in April for change to connect with other mobile innovators round the world.

“We are heavily investing in continuing to build-out our tech and platform, as well as performing targeted digital marketing and outreach,” said Conor Smith, founder of New Day (Neh Thit) during an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA.

The startup received previous funding from non-equity grants and through participating in competitions like Hubweek’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge, MIT Innovation Sandbox, and the Legatum Center at MIT, said Smith.

Some of those channels also contributed as the match funding source for New Day (Neh Thit) in getting the GSMA grant. The platform currently has nearly 20,000 registered users seeking to find a job match in different spaces.

Kargo, the other GSMA grant recipient, is an online platform that connects truck owners with businesses and individuals for a reliable and efficient delivery service.

Kargo, the Seedstars Yangon 2017 winner, previously raised a six-digit sum from Singapore-based Vulpes Investment Management in May 2017.

While Kargo’s grant amount received was undisclosed, each grantee startups is said to receive between £100,000 ($139,000) and £250,000 ($347,500) in funding.

As a match funding source, Kargo has seen three private investors take part in funding in exchange of a minority stake.

“The purpose of the grant is to invest funds into a SME logistics platform to expand nationally, provide driver training and provide SMEs with access to an online trucking marketplace,” said Alex Wicks, CEO of Kargo.

Since 2017, the team of 21 members has been “focused on building relevant technology solutions for our core key clients,” said Wicks adding that their revenue has tripled during since last year and saw an increase in their key clients.

“2018 will be our year for growth. We have some major businesses in the pipeline to grow rapidly into the intercity freight corridors of Myanmar,” he said.

Wicks said, their main challenge lies in “education and training of new technologies and concepts in a new and underdeveloped market,” grappling with issues such as digital payment.

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