Shopee empower mothers in Malaysia

source: Shutterstock

GARENA online-backed C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace operator Shopee has set aside $250K (RM1 million) to help mothers in Malaysia become entrepreneurs.

They are hoping to overcome the three most common barriers these ‘mompreneurs’ face; high cost structure, insufficient knowledge on how to sell online, and lack of marketing exposure.

“With the extension of our free shipping programme, expansion of Shopee University, and increased marketing efforts, we hope to have 10,000 mompreneurs on Shopee by end-2016,” said Ian Ho, Shopee regional managing director.

Shopee Malaysia is collaborating with the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), a non-profit organisation that provides counselling and shelter for abused women and their children, to support mothers who want to start their own online business. Empowering women is an important move as they’re alone create an untapped market of $2.4T in Southeast Asia.

Syllabus for Shopee University for the Malaysian market is similar to the one in Singapore, with three tiers: Beginner, advanced and expert. The beginner stage would be how to use and sell on Shopee, while the more advanced stages will include mentorship by Shopee professional trainers, including ways to tailor local Facebook and Google Ads.

National courier Pos Malaysia has also agreed to let Shopee use post offices across Malaysia to organise classes for its sellers and will help to educate on how to pack items properly before shipping them out. The number of classes will be increased between three and six per month from the previous one or two.

Shopee operates its C2C marketplaces in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It has seen over 13 million downloads of its app, and there are more than 26 million product listings across all these sites. In Malaysia alone, they have over one million users and one million product listings on our platform. While eventually plan to monetise the platform, they are focusing on customer service, and building the platform and the ecosystem for now.

Vietnam retail market ranked by AT Kearney

source: Vietnam Online

Vietnam is at 11th spot in the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) ranking by AT Kearney and has been among the top 30 fastest emerging global retail markets since 2008. According to the study, Vietnam has low market saturation and its GDP growth is highest among Southeast Asian countries in the GRDI.

Its GDP has grown 5.2% annually since 2013, the highest among its Southeast Asian peers also ranked in the GRDI.
Export growth and a 17% increase in foreign direct investment has spurred economic growth, underpinned by Vietnam’s geographic advantage and low labour costs. This foundation led to impressive growth in 2015 in the retail sales area (22%) and in retail sales (9.5%).

Ecommerce in Vietnam is expected to grow as the use of mobile phones spreads and online shopping becomes more common. Ecommerce campaigns are ramping up, including Online Friday, held by, which attracted 1.1 million visitors and close to 2,000 participating retailers.

From 2011 to 2015, Vietnam saw a continuous growth in retail turnover, worth $111 trillion (VND 2.47 trillion), accounting for 76.2% of the total retail and consumption value, according to a workshop discussing challenges facing the domestic retail sector in international integration held in HCM City on June 28.

Many market research companies and experts forecast that the retail market of Vietnam has great prospects for high growth in the future, driven by a population of 91.7 million with high consumption demands.

President of the Vietnam Retailers Association, Dinh Thi My Loan, underlined the challenges facing domestic retailers in international integration. Echoing Loan’s opinion on the increasing competition in the market, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, director of the Centre for WTO and Integration of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), called for incentives to ensure the sector’s sustainable development.

For the first five months this year, Vietnam’s total retail sales and services revenue reached $63.4 billion (VND1,430 trillion), a year-on-year increase of 9.1%. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of goods retailers witnessed high growth of 9.5% in the period, amounting to $86 billion (VND 1,920 trillion), accounting for two-thirds of the total retail sales and services revenue.

A version of this appeared in Nation Multimedia on June 30. Read the full article here.

Glispa expands to Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is very mobile driven, easily seen on public transport. Source:

After three years of executing mobile marketing campaigns in Southeast Asia, German based mobile marketing specialist Glispa Global Group is making a commitment to the region with a HQ in Singapore. It has also appointed former Google executive Christian Ngyuen as its Southeast Asia General Manager, Digital News Asia reports. The company has been executing mobile advertising campaigns in the region since 2013, but with Southeast Asia’s apparent mobile growth and potential, Glispa sees concrete opportunities here.

The company supports global advertisers, app developers and publishers to achieve user acquisition and monetization goals via marketing efforts with mobile. It also provides technology based solutions that tap into big data analytics, which will now be applied to Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and emerging mobile markets such as Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The countries make up a very interesting market for Glispa, as there are different levels of opportunities and challenges within the region, with Singapore’s mature mobile market, Indonesia’s hyper-growth market, and emerging markets with a mobile first mentality such as Thailand.

By 2019, more than 50% of digital ad spending will be attributed to mobile, which means there will be a vast extent of opportunities for Glispa to optimize in the region. Mobile advertising opportunities will grow steadily with smartphone penetration. According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, almost half of Thailand’s smartphone users access social networking and online videos on a daily basis. Smartphone subscription in Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam will more than double by 2021, making the region a mobile marketing goldmine.

Glispa has had extensive experience working with companies in the region, it has executed mobile marketing campaigns for Lazada, Shopee, Gumi and Matahri Mall. Glispa is getting a head start in Southeast Asia in terms of a mobile marketing initiative, which means it has potential to become a key regional player.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on June 29. Read the full article here.

Ecommerce delivery in Nigeria 2013. Source: Pius Utomi Ekpei — AFP/Getty Images

Ecommerce delivery in Nigeria 2013. Source: Pius Utomi Ekpei — AFP/Getty Images

Excerpts from

Rocket Internet is falling behind its emerging market targets and investors are beginning to doubt its ambitious goal to be the Amazon outside of America. Rocket now has a market capitalization of $3.3 billion, well below the $5.89 billion valuation it put on its portfolio at April 30, and only just above the $3.1 billion in cash held by Rocket and its operating companies as of March 31.  Its African fashion retailer, Jumia, made a loss of $18.8 million in the first three months of 2016 on sales that fell more than a third. The devaluation of Nigeria’s naira last week is a new blow for Jumia.

Its slowdown is the consequence of Rocket’s shift to rein in spending on marketing and logistics as it seeks to stem losses, which it said peaked at $1.1 billion in 2015.

The stock has been on a downward trajectory since peaking in February 2015 after it surprised investors with a new capital hike and shifted strategy to invest in the food-delivery business in developed markets.

The latest share price tumble started in April when Sweden’s Kinnevik, Rocket’s second-biggest shareholder after the Samwer brothers, slashed the valuation for its emerging market fashion websites by two-thirds.

Neil Campling, head of technology research at Northern Trust Securities, who rates the stock a “sell,” doubts the Rocket businesses can replicate Amazon’s success because its markets are so underdeveloped and the cost of logistics so much higher.

“As soon as they reduce marketing, you see revenue growth decline substantially,” he said. “They haven’t got the scale.”

Oliver Samwer says Rocket has more than enough capital to fund its main startups until they turn profitable.

Read the full Fortune article here, published on June 29. 

The Pulse of Fintech KPMG 2016 report found that the Asian quarter’s success was primarily down to two $1 billion plus funding rounds to China-based companies and JD finance. The total investment for the first quarter of 2016 hit a new record of $2.6 billion. Specifically in Southeast Asia, the report suggests that governments are waking up to the opportunity and supporting fintech innovators and investors.

Fintech Investment in Southeast Asia

In Thailand, the national e-payment system will be launched by the government this fall and aims to make Thailand cashless and support the country’s digital economy policy. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently launched a National Research Foundation Fintech Office as a ‘one stop virtual entity to support all fintech investment in Singapore and South Korea is trying to catch up with the global trend. On June 15, the Fintech Center of Korea, an affiliate of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission, hosted a Fintech Demoday in Singapore to promote Korean fintech firms’ entry into Southeast Asia.This office is part of the government’s $19 billion Research Innovate Enterprise 2020 Plan to foster innovation.

Additionally, marketplace lending platforms continued to attract investment attention in Southeast Asia, primarily for their ability to provide financing for small businesses and to address the needs of the underbanked or unbanked in the region. Insurance fintech in Southeast Asia is also growing with global players such as Allianz and Zurich Insurance launching Zurichclick in Indonesia.

The total investment for the first quarter of 2016 hit a new record of $2.6 billion.

“InsuranceTech has really taken off in the last 6 months both in terms of new innovations and investment,” said Jan Reinmueller Principal Advisor and Head of Innovation Ventures, KPMG in Singapore.

After a drop off in the last quarter of 2015, Asia has broken new funding highs in the first quarter of 2016. Thanks to governments support and online payment bottlenecks in ecommerce, substantial fintech investment in Southeast Asia and the rest of the region will not slowdown.

 Download the Pulse of Fintech KPMG Report Here


There are several factors drawing Chinese investors to look into the Indonesian market, e27 reported at the Convergence Ventures event.

Multi-Racial Background

According to Horizon-China & Feimalv Capital Founder Victor Yuan Yuan, Indonesia’s multiracial background makes it easier for foreign investors to bridge-the-gap between their own culture and that of locals. The country also has a “stronger Chinese connection” compared to other emerging markets. He also saw some similarities between Indonesian and Chinese technopreneurs.

Younger Demographics 

“The big innovation is done by people who are even younger [than most Asian markets]. If I look at the average age of innovators [in Indonesia] are younger than in China, so it’s even more promising,” Yuan said. When it comes to focus, Yuan believed that the service sector will remain popular in the next years. The investors will also focus on pre-Series A and Series A rounds of investments.

The big innovation is done by people who are even younger [than most Asian markets]. If I look at the average age of innovators [in Indonesia] are younger than in China, so it’s even more promising.”

The Gold Rush of Southeast Asia

The past year has seen China big players make their presence known in Indonesian tech startup scene. Alibaba had tried to expand its coverage in the country by launching Aliexpress before changing its strategy by acquiring Lazada in Southeast Asia. Alibaba’s competitor, JD, also has launched quietly last October. This article on Tech Crunch, urges business to “forget China because there is an ecommerce gold rush in Southeast Asia.”

“What we are going to do is set up a club, then probably an incubator, a multidimensional mechanism to support local startups,” he said. “Our own organisations will also invest in here, especially since this is a scalable market with [a] rising economy,” he added.

Likening today’s Indonesia to China seven years ago, he also called for local investors and businesses to collaborate together. As investments and attention has been turning to Southeast Asia, Indonesia in particular, there are factors that indicate how the region can be seen as China’s younger sister. However, the region is slowly catching up and showing a lot of potential, which explains why Chinese investors are looking in.


A version of this appeared in e27 on June 22. Read the full article here.