Ecosystem Deep Dives #30: Philippines - Riding the wave
Similar to Peru in LATAM, the Philippines was late to the Asian startup fury but it is catching up fast.
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Before 2021, the biggest round raised by a Filipino startup was a Series A. Made up of nearly 110 million people, the second most populous country in South-East Asia had seemingly not gotten the memo that their socio-demographic makeup was fertile ground for tech innovation. Meanwhile, their Indonesian neighbor was basking in its new unicorns. An economy traditionally reliant on tourism and remittances, it looked like the Philippines was bound to be yet another market for foreign startups, secretly wishing it had its own national tech champions.
Now, that isn’t to say that the Philippines’ startup ecosystem was non-existent in the 2010’s decade. However, it could be described as early at best, losing to its regional peers at worst. Then, something happened. A virus that, out of all of its devastating consequences, turned out to be the unexpected protagonist in the true takeoff of the Philippines’ startup ecosystem.
You heard that right. The year 2020 and the subsequent pandemic was a blessing in disguise for the plethora of Filipino startups banging their heads at changing people’s habits from analog to digital. During the pandemic, the Philippines gained 12 million new internet users, while simultaneously breaking decade-old paradigms related to digitalization. Moreover, according to a Google report, 37 percent of all digital service consumers in the Philippines in 2020 were new, with 95 percent of these new consumers intending to continue their behavior post-pandemic.