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Japanese investors have poured over $50 billion in Indian startups in five years

FILE PHOTO: Journalists raise their hands to ask questions to Japan's SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son during a news conference in Tokyo
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Japanese investors are not holding back when it comes to backing Indian startups.

Spread across 157 deals, more than 105 Indian startups received capital from Japanese investors between 2014 and the first half of 2019, according to DataLabs by Inc42’s estimates.

In fact, the overall $12-billion funding that startups in Japan received in this period paled in comparison to the $51 billion that Japanese investors poured into Indian startups. “The amount raised by Japanese startups between 2014 and H1 2019 is $2 billion less than Tokyo-based SoftBank’s investment in the Indian startup ecosystem alone,” said Ankan Das, head of DataLabs by Inc42.

SoftBank is one of the 50-plus active Japanese investors in India, and leads the pack with over $10 billion invested capital so far. In June 2019, it beefed up its team in the country and vowed to splurge between $2 billion and $4 billion more. Its portfolio is diverse and impressive with unicorns like ride-hailing startup Ola, housing group OYO, and digital payments company Paytm in its kitty.

Besides Softbank, other Japanese investors like M&S Partners and Akatsuki fund are also pumping money into India’s budding firms. Moreover, India’s tech industry body NASSCOM has partnered with 125 institutional investors in Japan to create a VC network for startups.

“The interest of Japanese Investors in the Indian startup ecosystem has been increasing over time,” an Oct. 30 press release by DataLabs noted. “Two of the most significant indicators of investor confidence i.e. the number of funding deals participation and count of unique startups funded are growing positively at a massive rate, in the case of Japanese-origin investors.”

Overall, Japan’s investing in India has its net cast far and wide, spanning retail, textile, consumer durables, food & beverages, and banking (credit card services), among other sectors.

At a time when economic activity in Japan has been sluggish—the country’s GDP growth rate hovers around 1.3%—in the face of low capital infusions and global headwinds like the Sino-US trade war, India, the world’s second-fastest growing major economy with a GDP growth rate of 6%, has emerged as a prime investing destination. The other major Asian economy, China, has been off the table due to political tensions for years.

Plus, India is home to the third-highest number of startups in the world, so opportunity is immense.

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