New fund to back early-stage SMEs

TO SUPPORT the growth of local SMEs, private investment firm RHL Ventures has launched a RM100mil fund, in which SME Corp Malaysia has made a significant investment.

The fund is the first public and private collaboration under the new administration and will focus on local startups and early-stage SMEs with significant operations in Malaysia.

This also marks SME Corp’s entry into the venture capital space.

While a large portion of its previous investments had been channelled to grow innovative startups within the tech space, RHL Ventures says this fund will have a broader focus and is more sector-agnostic.

“Ever since we started RHL Ventures, we have been inspired by how small businesses can make transformational impact in their industries and the greater economy.

“The government has typically led investments that support local businesses during their early stages, so we are glad that the current administration is ramping up its support to instil more innovation within the local business sector.

“What RHL Ventures aims to do with this fund is to invest in new businesses that are looking to bring new ideas and disruption in the current ways of doing business,” says RHL Ventures managing partner Rachel Lau.

This fund also highlights how partnerships between the government and the private sector will be able to help Malaysian SMEs grow in a sustainable manner in light of the digital economy. It will also help create more avenues for regional expansion.

“In Malaysia, SMEs comprise over 98% of total business establishments and contribute more than 37% to the national GDP. They form a central pillar of Malaysia’s economy,” says Noor Azmi Mat Said, chief executive officer of SME Corp Malaysia.

“To ensure a higher contribution of SMEs to the national economy, there is a need for more concerted efforts to be affected by stakeholders within the SME ecosystem, an example which private sector players such as RHL Ventures is helping to lead,” he adds.

To date, RHL Ventures has invested in tech companies such as healthcare software-as-a-service (SaaS) company HealthMetrics and healthy snacks e-commerce platform Signature Market.

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