KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd, which has teamed up with Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (Mavcap) to establish a RM100 million venture capital fund called Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF), yesterday announced its first investment worth RM12.5 million into six locally-owned companies. Speaking at a press conference, Axiata group COO Idham Nawawi said the group aims to further develop the technology companies – Tripfez, Easyparcel, Maideasy, Spot News, Easyuni and Supahands – to help them evolve into regional champions within the digital space area. By 2020, Idham said, the fund targets to build up to five regional champions. “We are in the best position to enable these companies to grow faster and bigger by providing not only funding, but also industry expertise and market access to Axiata’s over 260 million customer base across Asia,” he added. Idham said the group will hold stakes of between 20% and 40% in the companies through its investment. He said Axiata and Mavcap will be committing RM50 million and RM20 million respectively, to the eight-year fund under the first phase, while the remaining RM30 million will be raised from other principal investors in the second phase. “We are currently speaking to two or three corporations who are potentially interested to commit the remaining RM30 million. But it is premature for us to disclose it. We are still in discussions,” he said, adding the corporations are local and listed companies. Kamarul Nizam Kassim, partner at Mavcap’s subsidiary Intres Capital Partners Sdn Bhd, said the funds provided by ADIF will go mainly towards customer acquisition activities and expansion into new markets. He said the group had screened more than 180 start-up companies, before selecting the six. “We believe the initial six companies that we selected from hundreds of other prospects offer compelling and innovative services via web and mobile platforms. “From a Muslim-friendly travel portal to a global higher education research platform, to an e-commerce fulfilment aggregator and virtual assistant service, these services are highly relevant in today’s fast-evolving market. As such, we are confident that these companies have strong growth prospects,” Kamarul said. Tripfez provides a travel portal for Muslim travellers; Easyparcel provides web-based parcel consolidator and e-commerce shipping solutions; Maideasy is a platform for homeowners to book part-time cleaners; Spot News is a localised news reading app; Easyuni, a higher education research platform and Supahands provides virtual assistant services. Established in November 2014, ADIF aims to enhance the capabilities of local technology companies, especially bumiputra businesses with proven merit-based performance. Mavcap and partner Intres Capital are the fund managers of ADIF.