Grab is upping its battle against Uber in Southeast Asia by announcing a flurry of new initiatives in Indonesia, the region’s largest economy and world’s fourth most populous country, which include setting aside $100 million to invest in startups.
Today the Singapore-based company, which is valued at $3 billion and claims 33 million downloads, announced what it is dubbing “Grab 4 Indonesia 2020.” It said the government-backed plan will put $700 million in investment to work in Indonesia, which is the largest of the six markets in serves in Southeast Asia, over the next four years via a range of activities. This push comes as Uber’s ramps up its focus on Southeast Asia (and India) now that it is disposing of its loss-making China business, which reportedly sucked up $1 billion per year.
The $100 million startup investment commitment, which Grab said is a minimum, is aimed at promising Indonesian companies and entrepreneurs that fit with Grab’s. It isn’t a formal corporate fund, and will be handled by Grab’s existing team in Indonesia alongside executives such as President Ming Maa, who joined from investor SoftBank last year and runs a range of operational areas for Grab.
“We have a strong belief that we’re not the sole source of innovation in Southeast Asia,” Maa told TechCrunch in an interview. “We want to help develop an ecosystem of entrepreneurs working to improve lives in a very tangible and real way you just don’t see in other parts of the world. There’s [currently] really a lack of infrastructure and support to help those who want to make a difference.”
Maa refused to be drawn on the kind of deals that Grab would go after, other than that it is seeking companies that align with its business.
“The focus will be on really promoting entrepreneurship with focus on mobile payments, and localized solutions for transportation. We hope to see a number of companies and entrepreneurs come through the fund and be part of the Grab platform,” he said.
While the commitment is $100 million, Maa said he hopes to spend more.