Thai firm launches VC arm to back food, agtech startups in SEA

BackNov 17, 2021

Thai Wah Group, a Thailand-listed agri-food company, has announced the launch of Thai Wah Ventures, a venture capital arm focusing on the greentech space in business-to-business (B2B) food and agritech startups.

The VC firm will invest in eight to 10 early-stage startups over the next two to three years in its first phase. It will look at startups that are revenue-generating and on the brink of scaling their business. It will participate in pre-series A or series A rounds, which typically range from US$3 million to US$10 million in size.

A Thai Wah Ventures expert educating a family of farmers on agritech practices / Image source: Thai Wah Ventures

Incorporated in 1947, Thai Wah Group has a farm-to-shelf agriculture business and global food supply chain business with offices in five countries across Southeast Asia and China, including Bangkok, Shanghai, Jakarta, and Ho Chi Minh City. The company is a pioneer in B2B food ingredients, starch, and tapioca starch and flours, and it says that it is one of the largest distributors of vermicelli noodle products in Asia. It will launch a tapioca-based bioplastics business later this year.

Backed by Thai Wah Group’s operating capabilities in B2B food, starch, and ingredient solutions, Thai Wah Ventures aims to identify and help scale the next generation of startups and growth companies in the sectors of farm tech and innovation, B2B supply chain, novel ingredients, upcycling, and bioplastics.

In addition to funding, Thai Wah Ventures will bring value adds like research and development (R&D) support, pilot development, and production roll-out. The VC will also give startups a deeper understanding of the retail, wholesale, and cross-border distribution spaces.

Over the medium term, the company hopes to help at least four of its portfolio companies achieve unicorn status.

The deal flow is robust, and there is increasing talent and entrepreneurship in this space, Thai Wah Group CEO Ren Hua Ho told Tech in Asia. “But domain expertise in food and [agtech] is very important to overcome the friction of scalability, judgement on R&D outcomes and time horizon, and multi-channel distribution strategies,” he added.

He said that the company is currently in touch with some leading VCs in Asia and is looking to partner with them in future pre-series A and series A rounds of these select startups.

Thai Wah Group has been part of the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s Sustainability Investment list for the past three years, as well as the United Nations Global Compact initiative since 2020.

Soucre: techinasia