The Philippines’ potential as an emerging technology hub in the region took center stage this week as the “Geeks on a Plane” tour arrived in Manila, introducing the country to a diverse group of primarily US-based venture capitalists, startup founders, and technopreneurs.
The “Geeks on a Plane” (GOAP) tour is led by the venture capital firm 500 Startups, recently cited by the Wall Street Journal as one the most active venture capital funds in Silicon Valley, and is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) Program. 500 Startups is leading the worldwide tour of tech hotspots as part of its effort to raise $100 million in venture capital funding for startups around the world, including the Philippines.
In a press briefing, the head of USAID’s STRIDE Program, David Hall, explained: “We look at the country as a whole, [and]when you look at the developmental sense as a nation, [the Philippines]is in particular position in the world, and I think we take that into account as well. There is no shortage of smart people with good ideas, but their experience is different from people in Europe or in North America, so I think that is why the Philippines needs a little bit of a boost.”
500 Startups has already invested in several technology startups in the region including the Philippines’ own ZipMatch, an online real-estate platform that is aiming to revolutionize the home-buying experience in the country.
“We’re very proud to host the very first ‘Geeks on the Plane’ contingent to land in The Philippines,” said Earl Martin Valencia, president and co-founder at IdeaSpace Foundation Inc.
Valencia added, “That the Philippines became one of the stops for this year’s GOAP trip to Southeast Asia is a testament to the vast potential of local startups and the remarkable growth of the Philippine startup ecosystem.”
“I certainly agree, we need more small investors,” USAID’s Hall added. “There are a whole lot of really good wealth generating ideas which will work within local communities, which could get bigger but probably won’t, and so small investors are really important.”
Investors see potential growth in the Philippines in terms of economy because of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Hall explained.
SMEs comprise 99.6 percent of all registered firms and employ 70 percent of the country’s labor force, according to government data.