In 2012, a small Malaysian startup—little more than a prototype with dreams of ride-hailing riches—received an RM150,000 (US$35,770) grant from the Malaysian government. Today, it spans virtually every country in Southeast Asia, has forced Uber into a retreat, and commands a valuation of over US$10 billion.

It was known as MyTeksi then; you may know it better as Grab today.

To conflate the success of Grab with that 2012 grant would be reductive. It is, however, emblematic of the vital role the Malaysian government has played in the startup ecosystem, especially through Cradle Fund, the agency that Grab benefited from.

AUTHOR

Ka Kay Lum

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Ka Kay covers investment activities, aka following the money, across Southeast Asia and in-depth stories on the often-overlooked Malaysian startup ecosystem. She was previously a regional writer for Nikkei-owned DealStreetAsia.

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