‘Business builder’ sets up shop in PH
To grow the Philippines’ “entrepreneur ecosystem,” provide better support for businesses, and keep people from seeking better career opportunities abroad—these are the key goals of Reapra, a Singapore-based “business builder” and venture capital firm, which has started to expand its investments in the country.
“We’re very interested in the Philippines because of the continuous growth of the entrepreneur ecosystem,” said Jason Dacaret, Reapra’s chief human resources officer during a recent visit, wherein he spoke to students from the University of the Philippines about the advantages of pursuing a career in entrepreneurship. “Interest has piqued [among Filipinos] to start their own business, but the ecosystem still has to be fleshed out to encourage more people to come in and do that.”
Reapra was established in Singapore in 2015 with the aim of “building up businesses in key industries… by way of hiring entrepreneurs to help build out those industries,” said Dacaret.
To date, the company is involved in 13 industries, including agriculture, education, healthcare and media. Reapra also provides seed and venture-stage funding to startups through two venture capitals: Reapra Ventures and Coent Venture Partners.
“Our investment philosophy is, we look into key industries that have high potential particularly in Southeast Asia over the next 10 to 15 years,” said Dacaret.
Here in the Philippines, Reapra’s investments are in Pawn Hero, an online pawnshop; Fly Spaces, a “digital marketplace” for short-term workspaces; and Tech Box, a consumer electronics retail business. Dacaret said they were looking to add to these local investments and also bring in Singaporean companies who would like to set up shop here in the country.
One such company, said Dacaret, is Ring MD, an online healthcare platform that provides people living in far-flung areas with no easy access to medical institutions a more convenient way to seek immediate medical advice.
“So this is very good for people in the rural areas who don’t have access to doctors but have a smartphone. They may not necessarily have to go to an emergency room three or four hours away and wait. They get [information] real-time,” he added.
Aside from expanding Reapra’s investment portfolio, Dacaret said the company was on another mission: to invite more people, experienced or otherwise, to become entrepreneurs themselves.
Dacaret himself has made the rounds of some of the countries’ top universities, meeting with students of Business and Economics schools and informing them that there are many resources at their disposal— should they decide to take the entrepreneurial path.
“I think there are a lot of talents in the Philippines who would love to start their own business—they just don’t know how, or maybe they think it’s something their parents or peers don’t want them to do, [because the usual route is] join a big firm first, get some experience, then start your own,” said Dacaret.
Ultimately, what Reapra wants to provide is a simple support system for the country’s entrepreneurs, which Dacaret believes could stop talented people from leaving.
“We’d like to see talent remain, to help with building the economy, society, to provide solutions for the Philippines—instead of them saying, there’s a better opportunity, say, in Singapore, because that doesn’t really help. If we can get the entrepreneurs to feel that there is a support system, then that can only add to the innovation [and] competitiveness of the Philippines, jobs, and also the overall betterment of people,” Dacaret said. —ANNELLE TAYAO-JUEGO
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.