Asia’s fastest-growing companies

Published May 16, 2021, 12:25 AM

by Senator Sonny Angara


Senator Sonny Angara

The Financial Times, together with Nikkei Asia and Statista recently came out with its ranking of high-growth companies in the Asia Pacific Region. To be included in the list, a company must meet the following criteria — generated revenue of at least $1 million in 2019; must be an independent company, meaning it is not a subsidiary or branch office of any kind; should be headquartered in any one of the 11 territories in the Asia-Pacific region; and revenue growth between 2016 and 2019 should be primarily organic or internally generated.

A total of 500 companies were included in the list — ranging from start-ups to industry giants. They were ranked based on their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2019. The top 20 companies in the list belong to the technology, energy, financial services and transport sectors. At 116 companies, Japan has the most number of entries in the list — overtaking the previous year’s leader, India, which has 95.

Looking at the top 10 companies, what stands out is their use of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) in their operations. For instance, Singapore-based Carro, which ranked first on the list, is an online used car marketplace that started in 2015 and has recorded a CAGR of 422.4 percent. The company offers car buyers and sellers the convenience of purchasing their desired vehicle at home and even within an hour. Apart from offering everything from in-house financing, insurance and after-sales service, Carro has also incorporated AI to scan images of their vehicles to detect potential problems or defects. The company claims that this speeds up the process by 20 percent and reduces human error by up to 80 percent.

India’s The MathCompany, at number six, describes itself as “a modern, hybrid consulting firm that builds Custom AI Applications for Fortune 500 and equivalent companies.” Using their proprietary AI master engine called Co.dx, The MathCompany allows their clients to streamline their operations and improve efficiency by enabling data extraction, feature engineering, algorithm development and performance monitoring among others.

The Philippines, for its part, has 20 companies that made it to the list, including some brands already very familiar to most Filipinos. Just like many of the top companies in the list, the Philippine companies that innovated and embraced ICT emerged as disruptors or industry leaders — even potential world-beaters.

For instance, the internet service provider, Converge ICT, is a relative newcomer in the industry but has already put its competition on notice with its aggressive expansion. It has pioneered and launched the first Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification protocol technology and introduced the first ever Fiber to the Building technology in the industry.

Aidea, a global integrated design and technology firm, ranks 39th in the World Architecture 100’s annual survey of the world’s biggest architecture practices. They are recognized globally as a forerunner and expert on Virtual Design and Construction, the first Asian practice to embrace the leading-edge technology in 2005.

Mega Fishing Corporation uses state-of-the-art technology to track areas with healthy fish population. It also uses what it calls the Fish Pump, an innovation of the company that allows it to transfer its catch to a carrier boat in two to three minutes time instead of an hour by manual labor.

One thing we’ve learned from the high-growth companies list is that it pays to be abreast of the latest technological advancements. If a company has any aspirations of going global or attaining a triple digit growth rate, then some type of investment in ICT would be necessary. Ultimately, that means adopting (and investing in) an innovation mindset, which coincides with an increased threshold for risk and willingness to leave one’s comfort zone.

In May 2020, I filed Senate Bill 1470 or the National Digital Transformation Act, which is part of our Tatak Pinoy (Proudly Filipino) initiative aimed at helping Filipino industries and professionals become more globally competitive.

Through the development of a national framework for digital competency, we hope to empower Filipinos to meaningfully navigate today’s digital world. We want to ensure that every citizen is given the opportunity to understand ICT and develop the necessary skills and ability to apply ICT in their everyday lives.

The measure also promotes the digitization of businesses according to their specific needs. This could mean maintaining a web presence, engaging in e-commerce, using the cloud, and transforming back-office functions such as payroll and human resource management.

Hopefully one day we will see more Filipino companies breaking into the top 500 rankings and making their mark, not only here in the country, but globally too.

Sen. Sonny Angara has been in public service for more than 16 years.  He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.

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