Thursday, September 21, 2017

Local brands more competitive than foreign firms: Anthem

Anthem Asia will continue to seek investment opportunities among local companies, director Peter Witton told The Myanmar Times.

Earlier this month, Anthem Asia invested a “six-figure US dollar sum” in mobile data collection company Xavey Ltd, a Singapore registered entity operating out of Yangon.

The deal will see Anthem Asia eventually become the largest minority shareholder in Xavey.

Xavey was established in December 2013 by entrepreneur Aung Sithu Kyaw and is working with market research and non-government organisation (NGO) clients.

“We want to invest in and back local companies and local entrepreneurs,” said Mr Witton. “Whatever the sector, local brands are more competitive than foreign companies.”

Xavey allows clients to conduct Myanmar and English language field surveys using mobile devices, and converts paper based research forms into mobile applications, according to a May 5 press release. The product runs online, on the cloud, or offline.

“Before, market research firms and NGOs collected data in the traditional way by using paper,” Ko Aung Sithu Kyaw told The Myanmar Times. “Our platform changes the way data is collected, using mobile phones. For the time being, clients can collect data by using Android devices,” he said.

Ko Aung Sithu Kyaw warned that start-up companies in Myanmar should not only emphasise what they want to do, but must also be business-oriented. If start-up companies work smartly, they can get investment, but there is still a lack of human resources in Myanmar, he said.

“In Myanmar, we are lacking skilled labourers and office prices are too high. These remain barriers to developing small businesses,” he added.

Xavey is one of a number of investments Anthem Asia has made in the past 18 months, according to the May 5 press release. Last year, the firm invested in two businesses; The Blink Agency, a digital marketing joint venture; and Zagar Communications, a marketing and communications company.

“For an investment company, Myanmar has a lot of opportunities in start-up and expansion projects like Blink and Thahara, but there are still some difficulties,” said Mr Witton

“For example office prices are very high and the banking system is too slow.”

Anthem Asia’s other investments include a serviced office project called Hintha Business Centres. The first Hintha facility, which opened in September 2013, is in downtown Yangon, close to Sule Pagoda. The company has also invested in Thahara, a marketing and management platform offering access to properties across Myanmar.

The firm focuses on opportunities requiring first phase investment of between US$100,000 and $1.5 million.