Alibaba has signed deals with three entities to cement expansion in Russia [Reuters]

Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced today that it has partnered with a state fund and two technology firms in Russia, as reported by Reuters. Alibaba is looking to access a client base of more than 100 million people for future development.

As a result of the signed deal between the company and Russian Direct Investment Fund, mobile operator Megafon, and internet group, AliExpress Russia is now available, in which Alibaba obtained 48 per cent of its ownership. The deal was signed yesterday during Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum.

Among the three entities, there is 52 per cent combined stake of contributed cash, shared, and other asset in AliExpress Russia. “AliExpress Russia will leverage on Group’s 100 million internet users across its social media, messaging, e-mail, and online games properties,” the companies said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Darussalam Enterprise of Brunei held two entrepreneurship bootcamps supported by Golden Equator Consulting [Press Release]

Digital business consulting group Golden Equator Consulting partnered with Brunei’s national SME body Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) in starting two bootcamp programs. More than 80 startups and founders went through idea validation sessions.

One of the bootcamps, the Startup Bootcamp, has successfully mentored 70 companies in the last three cycles and helped raising more than S$750k in investment, provided employment to more than 250 people

As for the Micro Business bootcamp for 18-40 years old age group, it has helped develop 10 companies and provided additional employment to more than 30 people in its first cycle.

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“The programs in the bootcamps are curated to help the participants rethink and sharpen their ideas or businesses, while also aiding their skillsets in establishing scalable and sustainable businesses,” said Adam Flinter, Managing Partner for Golden Equator Consulting.

After pitching session for The Startup Bootcamp in January 2019, the top three startups in this cycle will attend a Demo Day in Singapore to pitch to a panel of investors for the opportunity to expand their businesses internationally.

Seed Myanmar Ventures Limited closed six-digit round delivery service platform Marathon Myanmar [Deal Street Asia]

A country-focused venture capital fund with early stage tech companies as its portfolio, Seed Myanmar Ventures Ltd has closed a six-digit round in Marathon Myanmar, a delivery service platform. Seed Myanmar of Singapore will have a minority stake in the startup, as reported by Deal Street Asia.

“We plan to use the funding to build the technology platform to lead the parcel delivery market in Myanmar,” said Marathon Myanmar CEO and co-founder Okkar Phyo.

Marathon Myanmar is targeting same day deliveries with the plan on technology upgrade. Apart from providing courier express service to e-commerce businesses and online shops in the country, Marathon Myanmar also handles bulk mail delivery and has started handling courier cargo forwarding service since the beginning of 2018.

Accused of connection with Shanghai crypto fraud, OKEx, OKCoin Founder is now under investigation [CCN]

OKEx and OKCoin founder Star Xu has been taken for questioning by Shanghai police in relation to fraud alleged to have happened in an obscure crypto project called WFEEcoin, as reported by CCN.

The possible connection is now being investigated with Xu’s alleged position as a WFEE shareholder. However, Xu denies that his Shanghai company is involved in the project despite what other WFEE investors’ accuse.

OKEx has been prone to scandal with its last month’s issue of forcing a US$420 million clawback on investors after a single trader was allowed to accumulate a massive position of US$460 million, which couldn’t be filled upon liquidation. The exchange couldn’t liquidate alone and cause the company to skim majority of the profit positions of their own users, sparking a scandal in the crypto space, plus concern over traditional banking practices worming their way into crypto-trading as well.

There was also accusation that the company’s CEO resigned shortly after falsifying the volume metrics that cause the 90 per cent inflation from the real figure. OKCoin was also crippled with lawsuit by a Chinese investor claiming he couldn’t withdraw BCH to sell at the high rate period.

GO-JEK-supported GO-VIET officially starts operation in Vietnam [Press Release]

GO-VIET, a multi-service platform supported by Indonesian GO-JEK has officially launched operation in Hanoi, Vietnam. The launch event was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vietnam’s Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The.

In six weeks leading to official launch, the app has scored 1.5 million download in Ho Chi Minh City’s soft launch.

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Services available in two cities on the platform include two-wheel ride-hailing (GO-BIKE) and courier services (GO-SEND). GO-VIET will also introduce additional services such as GO-CAR, a four-wheel ride service, GO-FOOD, for quick food delivery and GO-PAY, its e-money service.

GO-VIET now has 25,000 driver partners and become the first GO-JEK’s international operations. GO-JEK also planned other international rollouts in Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines in the pipeline.

Indian fintech for the self-employed Bon raises US$1.1M seed round [Press Release]

Bon, the India-based fintech that aims to provide easier access to digital credit as working capital for self-employed individuals, reportedly raised INR 7.8 crore (US$1.1M) seed round led by Omidyar Network, Axilor, and Better.

Bon targets workers that identify as “gig-economy” jobholder like taxi and ride-share drivers, goods delivery, and other contractors in India, making them able to borrow formal credit.

“Bon’s mission is to empower these new flexible workers to thrive by providing them an easy money management tool coupled with a credit offering that allows them to keep their business moving no matter what,” said Bhasker “Bosky” Kode, founder and CEO of Bon.

Bon launched last year with the goal of facilitating short-term credit to meet working capital needs for recurring expenses by these workers—who can use the Bon card at hundreds of thousands of merchant locations around the country. Bon has issued over 5,000 cards to date and has expanded operations to seven major cities.


Image Credit: GO-VIET