Celebrating Five Years of Driving Financial Inclusion for SMEs in ASEAN

It seems like yesterday when a few of us were starting Validus’ operations from a tiny makeshift office – which actually was a table in a restaurant. We were double-hatting, nay, triple-hatting, as Operations, IR, Sales and whatever was the need of the hour. Sleep was not an option for the first few months! We disbursed our first loan to a small IT hardware supplier to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. And thus began our journey.

We have come a long way since 2015. This August, Validus celebrates its 5th anniversary. From a three-member team to over 130 strong, now present in four countries and living in three of them! I look back with awe and amazement, and many times with a sense of disbelief and wonder – how did it all happen?

Truly, the only answer that comes to mind is – the passionate team and folks in Validus who have always held the belief that a hurdle was nothing but something that we will overcome and become better – together. And thus was the journey so far.

Covid-19 has been another hurdle we had to overcome, and we will. There were changes we had to undertake and processes reworked. We’ve always seen technology as a growth enabler, and today, that remains especially true – businesses have a chance to test, evaluate and update business contingency plans, ensuring that the safety of employees and maintaining efficiency, with an eye on improving processes. 

We took a while to test our strategy and product-market fit, and waited till we achieved pole position in Singapore before launching in other markets. In short, we made a lot of mistakes in our early days, but more importantly, we’ve learnt from those mistakes. We are now confident of replicating our success across the ASEAN region and have launched operations in Indonesia and Vietnam in quick succession with Thailand slated to go live in Q4 this year. 

Our goal is to become the #1 platform of choice for SMEs and investors across the markets we are in, by effectively addressing the SME financing gap and providing investors attractive lending opportunities for diversified, high-yield returns.

Despite the current pandemic, we’re well on track and are confident that whilst we still have some way to go before we can make a widespread impact, with each step along the way comes belief that we can continue to climb our way further up. 

Hereon our focus will be to develop strong teams and deep-rooted presence in each of the markets we operate in and become the online SME lender of choice for the region. Efficiency will be key – and working together cohesively becomes more important than ever.

P2P platforms will need to adapt and react quickly to adequately address the increased financing gap caused by COVID-19, as well as manage the increasing risk of non-performing loans. The pandemic will be an important moment for the P2P lending industry – we will likely see some P2P platforms cease operations or consolidate, especially those who are not able to adapt quickly to the new normal.

A challenging journey is always easier with like-minded friends and hence there is nothing more important than having the right team – choose your team wisely as that is the single biggest contributor to success or failure. With that, Validus is blessed with the best team and a supportive set of investors.

Personally, I have learnt so much from our team and partners, and I’m grateful to be working alongside so many passionate and dedicated individuals, as we continue to charge ahead to learn and share along the way. The path ahead is not going to be easy – but then easy paths never led to a brave new tomorrow.

Our journey continues, onwards and upwards!

– Vikas Nahata, Co-founder & Executive Director of Validus