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First three winners of Smart Axiata fund announced

Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt speaks at an event yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt speaks at an event yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

First three winners of Smart Axiata fund announced

The first three recipients of funding from the Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (SADIF), a $5 million venture capital fund committed to digital service companies and startups, were announced yesterday, while Smart also welcomed Forte Insurance (Cambodia) Plc as a co-investor in the fund.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said at an event yesterday that Joonaak Delivery, Morakot Technologies and Aniwaa 3D-printing were the first recipients of the fund. However, neither the amounts awarded to the companies nor the injection of capital by Forte into the fund were announced.

“Mekong Strategic Partners have screened the market [for Smart to verify the most viable candidates for funding], and it is remarkable to present the first three,” Hundt said. “For sure there will be more investees announced soon.”

Leakhena Long, from Joonaak Delivery, a company she co-founded, said that the fund would help expand business operations. Launched in 2014, Joonaak specialises in providing logistical and delivery support for online shops.

“So far, we have been in business over two years and have delivered 69,500 packages,” she said. “We are excited we got selected to be one of the [SADIF] investees, and with the prize we are introducing our new mobile application for our clients.”

Ripe for growth
Speaking on behalf of Morakot Technologies, co-founder Sophorth Khuon explained how the cloud-based banking platform, launched just over two years ago, had already grown to service 26,000 clients with a collective portfolio of around $85 million.

Martin Lansard, CEO of Aniwaa, said he had only just received word of being awarded funding yesterday morning. His company, which has been based in Cambodia since 2014, is one of the most encompassing comparison websites for 3D printers in the world.

“With this equity partnership, we will be in a stronger position to build a world-class content team,” he said. “We will also strengthen our sites and rich database capabilities.”

Kem Bora, investment manager for Mekong Strategic Partners, said that the fund was being used to identify businesses that are ripe for growth and can have an immediate positive impact.

“The three who made the cut this round are well-positioned to go to the next level,” he said.

The Smart innovation fund was launched in March of this year, with Mekong Strategic Partners as part of the investment committee, and aims to invest in at least 15 companies over five years.

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