Iris Capital Partners Launches Malaysia’s First Private Venture Debt Fund
By Digital News Asia December 20, 2021
- Set up under Dana Penjana Nasional, co-managed by Hanwha Asset Mgmt
- Aims to invest more in Malaysia & Southeast Asia, confident in region’s potential
Iris Capital Partners Sdn Bhd has launched Malaysia’s first privately led venture debt fund, the Iris Fund, which aims to finance high-impact startups from Malaysia and the Asean region. The firm is one of eight VC fund managers selected under the Dana Penjana Nasional programme through Penjana Kapital Sdn Bhd, which is owned by the Finance Ministry.
The pioneer fund is co-managed by Hanwha Asset Management Co, making this the group’s maiden venture debt partnership in Malaysia. The size of the fund will be US$37.85 (RM160 million) and capital is contributed from Penjana Kapital and a host of institutional and high net worth investors.
Venture debt funds allow for more accessible financing options for early-stage startups with validated business models and clear market growth opportunities, including minimising shareholding dilution, enhancing financial liquidity, and providing support for fundraising rounds throughout the region. This allows companies to maintain more autonomy over their assets, while providing access to financing that will allow them to grow significantly over shorter periods of time.
“While the Iris Fund isn’t limited to specific sectors or funding stages, we do look for companies with comprehensive business plans and projections that have clear strategies for long term growth prospects. The Fund is aimed to diversify capital sources for startups and help strengthen the financing opportunities in Southeast Asia,” said Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad (pic, left), Chairman of the Iris Fund.
Wan Kamaruzaman comes from an extensive financial and investment background, having served as CEO of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) between 2013 and 2018, Board of Bermaz Auto (since Oct), Bond and Sukuk Information Exchange, Valuecap Sdn Bhd, Malakoff Corporation Bhd, Institutional Investors Council, Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG), Global LNG Sdn Bhd, Damansara REIT Managers Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) and Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) and currently serves as an investment committee member at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
“This inaugural venture represents the Group’s strong belief in the growth of the region. The fund will be the first of many partnerships with Iris Capital Partners as the Group is looking to invest more in Malaysia and Southeast Asia,” said Kimo Kim (pic, left), Partner at Iris Fund. “This fund aims to offer more accessible financing to startups and SMEs – while allowing founders to better control their dilution.”
As one the top three asset management firms in Korea, the partnership with Hanwha brings to the table an incredible wealth of unparalleled expertise. Kimo Kim comes from a long history of corporate venture capital and managing pension funds predominantly in the Southeast Asian region and now serves as the Principal for Hanwha Growth Fund under the Hanwha Asset Management Co, while Yuntek Jung (pic, right) manages over 15 global VC funds and direct investments under Hanwha Asset Management Co.
The Iris Fund’s maiden investment, Growthwell Group Pte Ltd (Growthwell Foods), is an alternative meat and seafood protein provider for F&B businesses in Singapore and 10 other countries in the APAC region. The Iris Fund was part of the US$22 million (RM92.9 million) Series A funding round by the company alongside other investors, including Temasek Holdings Ltd, Creadev, GGV Capital and DSG Consumer Partners.
Growthwell, who is behind the vegan plant based brand HAPPIEE!, egg-free cooking ingredients brand OKK and plant-based ready meal brand Gomama, plans to use the investment to expand their manufacturing facility in Johor Bahru, projected to create more job opportunities for Malaysians. “We are extremely pleased to have global investors like Iris Fund onboard Growthwell as we look to scale up our plant nutrition business beyond Southeast Asia,” said Growthwell executive director Justin Chou. “We will continue to trailblaze plant nutrition in Asia.”
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