We focus primarily on financial and professional services in Asia. Through comprehensive top-down research we identify market opportunities with enduring structural advantages. For example, there is a severe lack of credit in our part of the world. Traditional banks are unable or unwilling to lend to small businesses or “non-conforming” consumers. As a result, for instance, formal household debt in the Philippines is only 10% of GDP. Each day over 1 million Filipinos visit pawnshops. This leaves a growing segment of entrepreneurs often unable to grow their businesses and individuals unable to finance their ambitions. We addressed this opportunity through investments in Esquire (exited) and TRB which are two of the most successful lenders to non-traditional borrowers in the Philippines. In professional services, we were drawn to the sticky nature of corporate services client relationships, market fragmentation and the inability of the largest players to serve client needs across the region. We backed our thesis by investing in Sleek (exited) and Acclime, which is Asia’s most successful corporate services start-up. Simply put, we prefer to invest with the wind at our backs in areas where we have industry expertise.
We invest across business development stages. No matter where the business is in its development (from a 60 year old bank to a not-yet incorporated start-up), we believe we can add value. We help entrepreneurs implement their innovative ideas to build disruptive businesses. We work together with management teams and local partners to solve problems and accelerate growth. In all of our investments, we believe in utilizing technology to improve processes and efficiency.
We are committed to our partners. We invest only with management teams and entrepreneurs who are receptive to strategic partnership and share our views. We are extremely hands on with our portfolio companies. We are generous with our time and committed to introduce our portfolio companies to our network. We believe in building and maintaining long-term relationships. We have helped raise various financing rounds (debt and equity) for our portfolio companies totalling approximately $250m+.
We are driven by returns, not assets under management. We believe that the right opportunity attracts capital. We have no problem saying “no” to entrepreneurs with great businesses who do not share our views on partnership, transparency and governance. We will not make new investments unless we have the same high conviction as our existing investments.