The ever-active OurCrowd is branching out into Asia.
Jerusalem-based equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd is partnering up with United Overseas Bank (UOB) in order to branch out into Asia. UOB is a leading Asian bank with a global network of over 500 offices, spread across 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America. The bank has been around since 1935, and is headquartered in Singapore, with banking subsidiaries in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
The bank’s history of serving entrepreneurs and small businesses makes it an ideal partner for the rapidly expanding OurCrowd – which claims to have raised $200m in equity funding for 91 companies to date. UOB client companies will now be able to seek funding through the OurCrowd platform.
But the synergies extend beyond the bank’s small business clients. Accredited UOB clients will also be presented with the opportunity to invest into some of the world’s most promising startups through the OurCrowd platform. The “most-promising” claim holds some weight in the case of OurCrowd. The platform is responsible for sourcing the global equity crowdfunding’s sector first ever exit by IPO, in the form of ReWalk Robotics. The listing gave the platform’s investors the chance to realise over 5.5x the value of their initial investments, less than 18 months removed from the first of two OurCrowd fundraises.
As part of the collaboration, UOB will be making a $10m investment in OurCrowd. Sassoon Investment Corporation – the private investment holding company of the Singapore-based Sassoon family – is also involved, and will invest in the “first leg” of OurCrowd’s Asian expansion. Ms. Janet Young, Head of Group Channels and Digitalization at UOB, offered her thoughts:
“As Singapore’s largest SME bank, UOB has deep experience from its long-standing support of entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs. This collaboration with OurCrowd is a natural extension of our interest in nurturing the growth of small businesses.”
“SMEs are the foundation of Asian economies, providing high levels of employment. However, it can be challenging for small businesses to obtain financing, particularly equity financing, in the early stages of growth. Because of this, UOB has partnered with OurCrowd, to connect smart ideas with smart money.”
Equity crowdfunding is beginning to surface as a force in Asia. We’ve tracked the emergence of a number of nascent regulatory regimes in South-East Asia. City AM reported this morning that a total of 159 equity crowdfunding platforms are live in China at present, between which a grand total of £643m has been raised. We’ll be keen to see what kind of dent the OurCrowd platform can make within this high-growth market.