ADB, Kiu launch e-commerce platform for Vietnamese SMEs

Kiu, a new e-commerce platform to help small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the lower Mekong region gain access to developed markets, has been launched with  the support of the Asian Development Bank.

Founded by Vietnam-based American entrepreneur Steve Landman, the platform would initially cover Vietnam and Cambodia, and will enable overseas buyers to source goods from Vietnamese suppliers.

Kiu platform – which was launched on Tuesday – consists of Kiu Marketplace, which lists products ranging from baby clothing, home décor, art and crafts to school supplies for consumers and wholesale importers to source; Kiu ERP, a management tool for local SMEs; and Kiu Shipping, which helps buyers arrange international shipping from the Mekong region.

The partnership between Kiu and the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI), a collaboration between the Asian Development Bank and the Australian government, started to address issues constraining private sector development, including expansion of SMEs.

Small businesses account for over 90 per cent of the country’s private sector, according to data by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We wanted to understand why Vietnamese companies found it so difficult to access the US, Europe and other overseas markets, and we kept hearing the same thing: there were many marketplaces but there was no real support for SMEs to help them validate their goods and access finance,” Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank economist and head of the MBI, addressed the launching event on February 21.

Kiu, incorporated in the US, aims to visit and validate every supplier to its platform face to face to ensure the benefits of buyers and transaction quality.

The multi-currency and multilingual platform claims to have been working with around 250 SMEs and attract 5 new suppliers every week, according to Landman, CEO of Kiu. Landman also expects to see 3.5 million transactions via Kiu within the first year post launching.

“The Kiu platform (…) represents a game changing marriage of technology, private sector ingenuity and overseas development assistance to propel economies forward,” commented Mellor.

Prior to venturing into Kiu, Landman has been associated with other MBI projects, including the Mekong Angel Investors Network. He had a stint serving as managing director of Lotus Impact, a Southeast Asia social investment fund invested by Ho Chi Minh City-based asset management firm VinaCapital.

Also read:

Mekong investor network to bring overseas angels to tap Myanmar

New angel network aims to bring 1,000 investors to Mekong region every year

Must empower youth to create innovation: Lotus Fund MD

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.