Asia-Pacific’s Leading Disruptors 2019: Philippines

FinanceAsia is showcasing the entrepreneurs who are leading the wave of technological disruption across the region. Here we look at the Philippines.

In line with our mission to shed light on the many investment opportunities popping up across Asia and Australasia, FinanceAsia is showcasing the entrepreneurs who are leading the wave of technological disruption in different countries and across a range of sectors.

Their companies range in size and maturity, but these people share a common drive and vision to compete against established institutions, whether in financial services, retail, energy, robotics, or logistics, to name just a few of the industries featured.

Following our methodology, we have selected five entrepreneurs from each of Asia Pacific's largest economies. Today we look at the Philippines.

PHILIPPINES

The number of entrepreneurs in the Philippines has doubled since 2016 according to a recent PwC report. More than half – 54% – of the startup founders that they surveyed had launched their businesses in the last three years.

Pro-active government policy is largely to thank for this. The nation’s department of trade and industry has taken an active approach to startup growth and has more than eight initiatives in place to nurture aspiring entrepreneurs.

ORLANDO B. VEA

Company: Voyager Innovations

Headquarters: Manila

Year founded: 2013

Industry: Technology

Prominent backers: Tencent, IFC

Vea runs Manila-based digital solutions provider Voyager Innovations. It connects smartphone users to easily accessible financial services. These include money remittances and cashless payments while encouraging greater financial inclusion in the region.

The company has received funding from leading tech companies in the region including Chinese conglomerate Tencent and raised $215 million over two rounds. This makes Voyager the recipient of the largest private fundraising ever for a Filipino tech firm.

Vea, aged 68, is a serial digital entrepreneur. In the early 1990s, he co-founded Filipino telecom group Smart and served as chief executive until 2000 when he went on to build cable channel company CIGNAL. He became further enmeshed in the national media industry after taking the position of president and chief executive at MediaQuest Holdings.

Nowadays, Vea is looking to disrupt the region’s finance industry by connecting unbanked consumers to digital wallet services. Voyager has three primary platforms to target these emerging markets: PayMaya Philippines, FINTQnologies and Takatack Technologies.

Together, these service providers have created a thriving digital ecosystem. Virtual wallet PayMaya facilitates online payments, while FINTQnologies works with financial institutions to bring their services online. Takatack is behind cloud-based e-commerce platform TackThis!, an accessible tool for businesses to start their own online stores.

JAIME AYALA

Company: Hybrid Social Solutions

Headquarters: Manila

Year founded: 2010

Industry: Energy, Development

Prominent partners: Habitat for Humanity, Shell Global

Ayala is founder and chief executive of Hybrid Social Solutions, which distributes and finances solar-powered products to rural areas in the Philippines and around the world.

“There are 40,000 communities in the Philippines still without electricity, but we keep pushing the grid,” he said in his keynote address at the 2019 Asia Clean Energy Forum. “It’s time to push a grid-less solar network to transform rural villages.”

Globally, the World Economic Forum estimates that more than 1.5 billion people live off the grid and have no electricity. Ayala and his company work to bridge this gap.

“We go and see what people are currently using, what their problems are, and then we figure out how our product line can help them,” the entrepreneur said in a WEF report. “It’s really about how you understand the challenges facing end-users and help them identify their needs.”

He graduated from Harvard’s MBA programme in 1988 and went on to become a senior partner at consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, before serving as head of real estate developer Ayala Land.

Ayala, who is unrelated to the family that owns Ayala Land, stepped down as chief executive of the firm in 2009 to pursue social entrepreneurship.

LEANDRO LEGARDA LEVISTE

Company: Solar Philippines

Headquarters: Manila

Year founded: 2013

Industry: Energy

Prominent backers: None

Leviste is the son of Loren Legarda, deputy house speaker of the house of representatives in the Philippines, and Leandro Leviste, chief executive of renewable energy company Solar Philippines. The Yale University poli-sci graduate founded the company in 2013 during his senior year.

Early clients included SM Prime Holdings, one of Asia’s most prominent property developers. The group partnered with Leviste to debut the world’s largest solar-powered shopping mall in 2014.

The 200-person company has achieved a number of national records. Solar Philippines built the largest solar energy farm to date in 2015 and eventually aims to have a solar panel on every roof across the country.

ROBBIE ANTONIO

Company: Revolution Precrafted

Headquarters: Manila

Year founded: 2015

Industry: Real estate

Prominent backers: K2 Global, 500 Startups

Antonio is the founder and chief executive of Revolution Precrafted, a maker of prefabricated homes with a presence in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. He is an experienced brand marketer and he has leveraged partnerships with celebrities like boxer Manny Pacquiao to grow both Revolution Precrafted and his other consumer ventures.

Revolution Precrafted is part of a niche prop-tech sector that caters to luxury markets. The firm’s dwellings come disassembled and can be snapped together on-site. The entrepreneur sells his homes to property developers. You can see Antonio’s passion for art in his designs. He is also a prolific art collector and was named in Artnet’s 2016 World’s Top 100 Art Collectors.

The idea of a luxury prefabricated house is novel, but Antonio has curated a range of designs from architects like Zaha Hadid and Marcel Wanders to appeal to everyone.

MARICOR BUNAL

Company: Loansolutions.ph

Headquarters: Manila

Year founded: 2014

Industry: Finance

Prominent backers: KK Fund, Kickstart Ventures

Bunal is the chief operations officer at online lending platform Loansolutions.ph.

Loansolutions.ph aims to keep finance simple for Filipinos with quick processing times and lower transaction fees than traditional financial institutions.

Bunal featured on Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 List in 2017. When not heading operations, she also works as a content writer and sales tracker on the website.

 

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