Smart Axiata’s VC arm SADIF invests in Cambodian startups Okra Solar, Sousdey


Okra is an IoT startup that helps rural communities access affordable solar technology whereas Sousdey is a CRM solutions provider

Okra Solar, a solar energy software company, and Sousdey Cambodia, a digital marketing platform and enterprise solution for customer relationship management (CRM), have received funding from Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (SADIF).

The transaction details haven’t been disclosed .

Commenting on the two investments, Bora Kem, Partner of Mekong Strategic Partners, the investment firm managing SADIF, said: “Our investment into Okra underlines the importance of innovation to address issues relevant to the most underserved population while still delivering attractive economics and impacts on a global scale. Sousdey Cambodia highlights the speed and scale of AI-based software to solve engagement issues in a customer-facing business.”

Founded in 2016, Okra is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) company that helps rural communities access affordable solar technology using its advanced distributed energy technology. Its software enables solar panels and batteries to be connected into smart microgrids, providing remote households with access to electricity.

While customers pay a subscription fee, power distributers can control and monitor the systems remotely as well as receive real-time notifications on network customer behaviour.

Also Read: Cambodia saw 140 per cent rise in tech startup investment in 2018, says report

Okra claims to have provided electricity to more than 500 people and 100 households in Cambodia since its inception. The company began its pilot in Cambodia and has signed MOUs with local and international distributors.

The startup recently secured a contract to be the technology provider for an infrastructure investment fund, whose project aims to provide 40,000 people in the Philippines access to electricity, where roughly 2.4 million households remain off-grid.

“It was a natural choice to partner with Smart as we already use network connectivity to remotely manage and control our IoT microgrids. Connectivity is crucial to collect sensor data and send the controls we need to make sure communities have access to energy,” said Afnan Hannan, Co-founder of Okra.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said: “Electricity is an essential necessity for human livelihood, but more than 1.2 billion people around the world are still living without consistent power. Okra’s differentiated technology and business model has the capacity to deliver and positively respond to those living off-grid in Cambodia and beyond.”

In this round of capital injection, SADIF is co-investing alongside Schneider Energy Access Fund (on behalf of Schneider Electric).

Prior to SADIF funding, Okra received support from organisations such as UKAid and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

Started in 2017, Sousdey became the first mover in the local market for its Facebook Messenger chatbot services and one of the first to develop Khmer Natural Language Processing on an AI-based platform. Almost every SME and business in Cambodia uses Facebook and Facebook Messenger but may struggle to efficiently communicate with their many customers. Sousdey enables enterprise clients to smoothly interact with their customers and understand key insights across thousands of interactions.

“The funding from SADIF will greatly support our platform development while reinforcing our sales and marketing efforts to expand our product. Sousdey looks forward to collaborating with Smart, Forte and MSP to help access enterprise clients and build a world-class enterprise product,” said Djibril Cisse, Founder and CEO of Sousdey.

Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance, the limited partner of SADIF, added: “The fast e-commerce market growth gives merchants opportunities to build relationships with customers virtually. However, a common pain point is that since every transaction is processed manually, problems can arise throughout the process. Sousdey’s enterprise solution is capable to address both the customers and the merchants.”

Sousdey also provides access to a messaging and analytics platform for CRM. With the platform, enterprise customers can customise various solutions to automate interactions with customers, broadcasting promotions, order fulfillments, reservations and customers support, amongst its many capabilities.

Today, Sousdey serves 800 corporate and SME clients and has facilitated more than two million conversations through its platform.

Also Read: Logistics startup Joonaak wins Seedstars Cambodia 2018

SADIF is Cambodia’s first digital VC fund managed by Mekong Strategic Partners with investments from Smart Axiata and Forte Insurance. Its previous investment are Agribuddy, Nham24, Morakot Technology and Joonaak.

The post Smart Axiata’s VC arm SADIF invests in Cambodian startups Okra Solar, Sousdey appeared first on e27.