Will Venture Debt Be a White Knight for Startups in Southeast Asia?


In a tech ecosystem affected by an uncertain environment, could venture debt be a white knight to save startups in Southeast Asia?

Venture debt, a type of financing typically used by early-stage companies and startups, first gained prominence in Southeast Asia around 2015. In the US, however, it has long been a fixture on the market, with 35-year old industry pioneer Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) backing around 50% of venture-capital-backed companies with IPOs in 2017.

Venture debt brings significant benefit as a complementary form of financing as capital that is almost equivalent to equity without dilution. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), debt capital can also bring an optimum cost of capital.

– Jeremy Loh, Co-founder and managing partner at Genesis Alternative Ventures

General financing parameters in venture debt have not changed much, despite recent variability in demand and market conditions in wake of COVID-19, according to Loh. Genesis Alternative Ventures typically funds between USD 1 to USD 5 million dollars, while Innoven Capital typically carries out a 20% funding round with loan durations typically among two to three years long, similar to pre-COVID financing structures.

Both venture debt providers emphasized that their general funding structure and terms remain sensitive to the company’s purpose. In addition, bespoke conditions may be offered to tailor to each company’s circumstances.

Yet, despite the arguably increasing popularity of venture debt in Southeast Asia, it is yet too early to conclude that this will become a mainstream form of financing for startups, even with COVID-19 as an accelerator of change, and promising venture debt providers like Innoven Capital and Genesis Alternative Ventures in play

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