Over the past 10 years, the majority of SEA venture capital investment, amounting to nine dollars out of every 10, has been directed towards the tech-enabled sector. Without this crucial funding, the landscape of Asia and Southeast Asia, in particular, would be vastly different today, as it has played a significant role in fueling the digitalisation of their economies and societies. This venture capital investment has set the foundation for a generational roadmap of digitalisation, and we’ve witnessed a remarkable increase in internet accessibility and mobile penetration rates since the early 2000s. It’s safe to say that we are off to a great start.
Embracing change and transformation is never comfortable for anyone. Both at their individual level and in society at large. The cumulative knowledge and consciousness of most ASEAN emerging economies in this digitalisation roadmap is still nascent and in dire need of nurturing. These newly crystallised stabilities and infrastructures of functional societies and economies now face rapid and disruptive technology innovation which challenges the peaceful status quo and norm of practice.
Against this backdrop, we see two major opportunities:
Firstly, digital-enabled societies are becoming inevitable in Asia due to population growth and socio-economic pressures. However, simply relying on innovation-centric capital is insufficient to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the innovation needed to achieve this transformation. This is especially evident when we observe that internet accessibility and mobile penetration rates don’t immediately translate into widespread B2C transactions and B2B practices among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at all levels.
In the current economic climate, the region finds itself in a state of uncertainty, oscillating between embracing and resisting tech and digital transformation. To successfully navigate this landscape and drive meaningful change, a more comprehensive and strategic approach is required beyond just financial investment in innovation.
Secondly, digital-enabled societies are going to be more interconnected than ever – the region’s economies and industries are more reliant on technology and each other’s development to compete globally. It is as exciting as it is scary but the anxiety can be turned into an accelerant to prepare us for it.
Asia calls for an ecosystem actor, an agent of change and an all-level orchestrator that could guide the enablement, education and transition process holistically. This means bringing together a community that has seen the first hand and played an active role in the progression of economy and societies from going beyond being a reserved to an advocate and now a force of frontier. And creating a nexus of support, through capital and market access, lessons of both success and failure and a network that bridges both public and private parties that elevates the digital roadmap of entrepreneurship and business building.
Thus, GUIDE is born.
As an independent and affiliated entity of Gobi Partners, it is fulfilling the mission of digitisation and startup ecosystem building and enablement by co-creating initiatives that spur innovation with other mission-aligned players. This includes but isn’t limited to, measures such as bespoke programs and events with partners elevating local venture ecosystems and accelerating multi-regional collaboration when it comes to impactful innovation.