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News ICCP, Japan firm hitch ride on innovation, digital tools

ICCP, Japan firm hitch ride on innovation, digital tools


MANILA, Philippines — ICCP SBI Venture Partners (ISVP) plans to invest up to $2 million quarterly as it hitches a ride on the growing demand for innovation and digital tools in the Philippines.

ISVP is a joint fund between ICCP Venture Partners and SBI Holdings, a Japanese financial conglomerate, which operates one of Japan’s largest venture capital (VC) practices.

“In the Philippines, clearly, fintech is advancing rapidly,” ISVP managing director Miguel Encarnacion told The STAR in a recent interview.

He said that as the Philippines embraces digitalization and e-commerce, the efficiency and low costs of fintech solutions have bolstered financial inclusion and paved the way for the growth of other industries.

“A lot of eyes are in the Philippines. We have a really strong momentum especially with 2021 as a globally strong year for venture capitalists,” he said.

Last year, venture capitalists invested more than $675 billion in startups worldwide in 2021, doubling the previous all-time high in 2020, according to data by VC analysis firm Dealroom and British promo agency London & Partners.

Asked what areas VCs such as ISVP would be looking in the Philippines, Encarnacion said that generally, in emerging markets, the big topic is always related to facilitating payments.

“It always starts there so it’s logistics tech and e-commerce,” he said.

ISVP’s advantage as a VC is that it has the advantage of working with large Japanese investors.

“They are very interested in looking for frontier technologies and then we can bring in the local market. We understand the Philippine market,” he said.

With the government’s support and the private sector deploying fintech solutions, ISVP sees these developments as venture capital opportunities and is successfully catching and riding the early wave for both local and regional markets.

ISVP’s seasoned venture capital team from the Philippines, Japan and Silicon Valley invests in rapidly growing technology companies and sectors like fintech, logistics tech, prop tech, and future of work technologies in key geographic locations such as the US, Canada, Europe, UK and Southeast Asia.

In 2021, ISVP participated in the Series B funding round of GrowSari, a startup that helps digitize sari-sari stores in the Philippines.

To date, the company has raised over $110 million following its Series C round – the largest amount ever in the B2B and micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) space in the Philippines.

Another company being supported by ISVP is X0PA, a Singapore-based leader in AI-powered hiring solutions. ISVP capped-off 2021 by leading the Series A funding round of $4.2 million (around P214 million), which included participation from Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm SEEDS Capital, US-based AI8 Ventures, Taiwan’s XCEL NEXT Ventures, and SASV Investments.

The VC firm’s latest investment is PayMongo, an online B2B payments company and first Filipino-owned fintech startup incubated by Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator, the premier seed accelerator in the world.

The round brings PayMongo’s funding to nearly $46 million, following a $12 million Series A in 2020 and a $2.7 million seed round in 2019. Other investors in the Series B include Global Founders Capital, SOMA Capital, Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng’s Kaya Founders, and Tinder founder Justin Mateen’s JAM Fund.

“ISVP supports innovative companies like PayMongo, XOPA and GrowSari, which are transforming industries and accelerating digital innovation in the region,” Encarnacion said.

As ISVP continues to co-invest with top global VCs, Encarnacion said the company is ambitious in its growth objectives not only for investment, but also for public-private collaboration by strengthening the digital infrastructure and expanding financial inclusion in the country.

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