What Will it Take to Keep Southeast Asia's Digital Economy Booming?

Other featured stories include: Indonesian Cloud Kitchen Startup Hangry Closes $13M Series A; Amartha Secures $28M to Empower Rural Indonesian Women with Working Capital; and Online pharmacy Platform POC Raises $4.5M to Improve Services in Vietnam.

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May 12, 2021

What Will it Take to Keep Southeast Asia's Digital Economy Booming?

Recent research by Bain & Company, Google and Temasek uncovers digital transformation trends in Southeast Asia. 

As COVID-19 maintains a grip on Southeast Asia, the economic fallout continues to unfold in unpredictable ways. One definite outcome is the coronavirus’ role as an impetus for massive digital adoption trend in the region. As online shopping, streaming entertainment, telehealth and digital banking take off, the big question now on everybody's mind is what will it take to maintain the momentum?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, internet usage has flourished like never before. A total of 40 million new users were added in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in 2020; bringing the total to 400 million users. According to research conducted by Bain & Company, Google and Temasek, 70% of Southeast Asia is now online. 

More than one in three consumers of digital services is a new adopter, and 90% intend to continue their newfound habits post-pandemic, the research found. Aside from Vietnam and Thailand, the majority of new consumers are from non-metro areas. As reported by Business Times, Southeast Asians spent on average an hour more a day on the Internet during COVID-19-imposed lockdowns, with the highest spike in the Philippines.

In addition to tracking the digital services economy, the research identified the key trends across seven important sectors: e-commerce, online media, transport, and food, online travel, digital financial services, healthtech and edtech. Combined, these sectors combined are poised to grow from $100 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2020 to $300+ billion in 2025. The fastest-growing countries are Vietnam and Indonesia, where the digital economies are expanding at double-digit rates.

Indonesian Cloud Kitchen Startup Hangry Closes $13M Series A

Hangry, an Indonesian cloud kitchen startup that wants to become a global food and beverage company, has raised a $13 million Series A. The round was led by returning investor Alpha JWC Ventures and included participation from Atlas Pacific Capital, Salt Ventures and Heyokha Brothers. Along with a previous round of $3 million from Alpha JWC and Sequoia Capital’s Surge program, Hangry’s Series A brings its total funding to $16 million.

It currently operates about 40 cloud kitchens in Greater Jakarta and Bandung, 34 of which launched in 2020. Hangry plans to expand its total outlets to more than 120 this year, including dine-in restaurants.

The new capital will be used to increase the number of Hangry’s outlets in Indonesia (including launching its first dine-in restaurants) over the next two years before it enters other countries.

Founded in 2019, Hangry is part of Indonesia’s booming cloud kitchen industry. Tech giants Grab and Gojek both operate networks of cloud kitchens that are integrated with their food delivery services, while other startups in the space include Everplate and Yummy.

One of Hangry’s main differentiators is the company’s focus on its own brands (versus providing kitchen facilities and services to restaurants and other third-party clients). Hangry currently has four brands, including Indonesian chicken dishes (Ayam Koplo) and Japanese food (San Gyu), that cost about 15,000 to 70,000 IDR per portion (or about $1 to $6 USD). Its food can be ordered through Hangry’s own app, plus GrabFood, GoFood and ShopeeFood.

Amartha Secures $28M to Empower Rural Indonesian Women with Working Capital

Amartha, an Indonesian P2P lending platform focused on women micro-entrepreneurs, has raised $28 million investment from the Women’s World Banking Capital Partners II fund and MDI Ventures. Mandiri Capital and UOB Venture Management also participated.

The announcement follows shortly after Amartha’s US$50 million debt financing round from US-based Lendable in February this year. The latest round of investment will be used to strengthen Amartha’s community-based lending business and further develop its product.

Headquartered in Jakarta, Amartha provides access to women micro-entrepreneurs in rural areas seeking working capital and connects them with lenders.

“Beyond lending, we have other services such as Amartha for Business Partners to encourage offline-to-online transactions, supporting end-to-end loan management from origination and disbursement to repayment,” Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, founder of The platform currently operates in more than 18,600 villages within Indonesia including Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, and claims to have helped over 600,000 women micro-entrepreneurs receive loans of up to US$240,000.

Online Pharmacy Platform POC Raises $4.5M to Improve Services in Vietnam

Pharmacy Online Concierge Pharma has secured $4.5 million in an equity financing round to digitize pharmacies in Vietnam. Based in Vietnam and Hong Kong, the platform helps pharmacies, drug manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and consumers to digitally manage their interactions.

This transaction represents one of the biggest rounds at this stage in Vietnam, according to DealStreetAsia. POC Pharma said it would use the money to improve its services in Vietnam, focusing on selling pharmaceutical products online first and then aiming to launch in more countries.

Established in 2020, POC helps pharmacists manage all their processes, increasing revenues and profits while improving their quality of service. Its services include trade programs and trade offers management, content and information sharing, data integration and visualization, customized customer engagement, multichannel commercialization, and order management (VN Express). 

The startup said it has five global pharmaceutical company customers, including Bayer and Pfizer, and more than 20,000 pharmacies in 22 different markets use its platform.

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