By Louis Casey Sep 14, 2021
Southeast Asia is projected to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030, driven by long-term macroeconomic trends, such as growing demand for consumption upgrades, a fast-growing middle class, rising urbanization, and technological disruption. These favorable secular tailwinds, combined with the accelerated shift to online shopping and consumption driven by the pandemic, have fundamentally changed how all businesses have had to adapt to stay ahead of their customers’ needs.
This has resulted in a new wave of innovative technology companies springing up across Southeast Asia that are developing game-changing services and solutions to help companies transform and win in the digital economy. For investors, this creates a large opportunity to support high-growth technology companies looking to evolve into regional champions and global industry leaders. Our Asia Next Generation Technology (“NGT”) strategy is designed to capitalize on these attractive opportunities, across a broad range of areas including enterprise software, security, consumer internet, digital media, and fintech.
One market where we see explosive growth is Vietnam, with its young, affluent and digital-first population. Vietnam is already an active market for KKR, where we have invested more than US$1 billion of equity in leading Vietnamese companies. The country’s shift to a digital economy is reflected in the rapid expansion of its internet economy, which is expected to reach US$14 billion in 2020 and grow to an estimated US$52 billion in 2025.1 While this transition may be easier for larger companies, 40% of Vietnam’s economy is comprised of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which rarely have the same resources or expertise to embark on digital transformation. It is therefore amply important to make digital solutions more accessible to these businesses.
To support MSMEs through their digital transformation journey, KiotViet, a leading business management software provider headquartered in Hanoi, has developed an affordable, full-suite software solution that includes point-of-sale, inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM) and employee management services. By keeping KiotViet’s innovative solutions accessible, homegrown MSMEs can digitalize their businesses to enhance their operational efficiency and spend more time doing what really matters – serving their valued customers. In the span of seven years, KiotVet has grown to serve more than 110,000 MSMEs across Vietnam today with substantial headroom for continued expansion within Vietnam’s growing 5 million MSMEs.
The company continues to innovate, and has expanded its offering to provide a B2B procurement marketplace and integrated logistics service for its merchants to source new products at attractive prices. These are becoming very exciting growth vectors for the business. KiotViet also plans to soon provide financial services solutions such as digital payments and merchant lending.
KiotViet is playing an important role in enabling the future growth of MSMEs and KKR is proud to lead the Company’s Series B funding. KiotViet represents the first investment in Southeast Asia made from our Asia NGT strategy, and reflects KKR’s commitment to building on our existing technology focus in the region (with investments such as PropertyGuru, GoTo and Voyager) and extending our mandate to include earlier stage, high-growth technology companies and providing them with long-term capital and value-added support. We intend to leverage KKR’s experience in SME software (MYOB, Exact), and our global expertise in fintech and growth technology to help KiotViet achieve its full potential. We look forward to working closely with Hao Tran, Tony Ng and their talented team as they increase the digitalization of Vietnam’s MSMEs and contribute towards Vietnam’s long-term economic prosperity through software and financial technologies.
1. Google, Temasek and Bain, e-Conomy SEA 2020