Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen many countries, Malaysia and Indonesia included, experience food shortages at one point or another – particularly when it comes to fresh meat and poultry. In an effort to counter these shortages, companies throughout the Southeast Asian region have expanded their production of thoroughly researched, plant-based proteins.

However, there are gaps in the market, as consumer education and pricing often limits the ability for these solutions to scale in Southeast Asia. To find out the potential of the industry, we speak to Rachel Lau, Managing Director at RHL Ventures on investing in companies that are working towards higher food security in the region.

Accelerating Asia bets on Southeast Asia’s strong growth

RHL has invested in a few of these companies that are not only working towards establishing food security, but are also opening up more job opportunities for many in the region and contributing towards strengthening the local economy.

One of their investments in Southeast Asia include Singapore-based Glife that recently acquired Yolek, a 30-year old Malaysian company that specializes in distributing plant-based products throughout the nation.

We speak to Rachel to better understand their fund’s direction and what it means.

Could you share the investment strategy that RHL Ventures follows? How do you identify industries or startups that you want to invest in?

We are typically a Series A and B investor, focusing on agri and food tech, healthtech, edultech and fintech. We are looking for companies that are disrupting the existing ways of doing businesses and looking to innovate and grow. We look at companies from an addressable market standpoint- product market fit, margins and sustainability of margins, founders, and understanding the company’s vision. 

What impact do you see on investments in the region, as the economic slowdown continues? 

Cost of goods are heading up and startups are having more issues with margins and turning profitable while managing cost. We also see a slowdown in terms of spending as with all the businesses currently. 

What advice would you give founders right now, especially those in industries that are being impacted by the slowdown?

Be resilient, be strong, cyclicality happens and  you should hold your heads high. Essentially, ensure that your margins are kept and cost cut if necessary to keep the company going. 

Treat people well, make sure that the culture is still intact! 

What are some of the industries you’re interested in at the moment and why?

Agriculture, food, healthcare and education is something that we look at. 

What’s next for RHL Ventures?

We will be launching more new funds to invest in Southeast Asia. We are looking at more ESG-focused companies that are looking at doing good. We believe by doing good, you will do well, so we are also looking for diverse founders and innovative ideas to fund.