Cradle Fund still in the dark over new direction

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, one of the oldest early stage start-up influencers, is still uncertain about its position and which ministry it will be parked under, following the government’s decision to re-organise the various funds in the country.

Acting group CEO Razif Abdul Aziz (picture) said the venture capital firm, which has been under the Ministry of Finance (MoF) since its inception, is still waiting for a clearer direction on the government’s reassignment that would involve a number of funds.

“We are waiting for instructions and to be honest, we are ready to work with whichever ministry we are assigned to.

“As of now, I suppose we are still under MoF, the way it has been over the last 15 years,” Razif told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a recent interview.

He said Cradle Fund has also been engaging much with the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) lately.

“There’s also MESTECC, which is under the watch of Yeo Bee Yin, and they have called to meet us several times lately, so that could be it.

“To us now, if a ministry calls for a meeting, we would go, and it could be any ministry,” he said.

Two months after the change of the government following Pakatan Harapan’s surprise victory during the 14th General Election, local newspapers reported that government-linked funds are likely to undergo a reorganisation exercise by the MoF.

The news came about after it was discovered that some of the funds had not been not able to pay back the amounts due to the government, despite long periods of restructuring efforts. The reports also suggested that the new government had placed funds such as Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (Mavcap) and few others, including Cradle Fund, under MESTECC.

“Everyone is just waiting for someone from the government to pull the trigger,” Razif said.

Nonetheless, Razif believes the best that can be done at this point is to just go with the flow, as he emphasises the firm’s readiness to engage with any ministry that is willing to work with Cradle Fund.

“Our mandate and scope haven’t change in the last 15 years, so I don’t think it will be difficult for the government, in terms of evaluating us.

“Should we undergo reorganisation, of course there will be pros and cons because with the MoF, there’s a sense of familiarity as it is a part of our usual process,” he said.

However, if Cradle Fund were to be relocated under a different ministry, Razif said it will take his team some time to adjust and work with new people and processes.

He said lack of familiarity would be the main hurdle for the team to overcome.

Razif is, however, optimistic that there may be some closure around the corner, since the Budget 2019 announcement is less than a month away.

“How can there be budget allocation without the government deciding on the bodies and funds under each ministry?

“The game plan is for them to finalise the reorganisation for the government to decide on the amount of funds to be allocated for each ministry under the new budget.”

According to him, the longer the government takes to decide to finalise the changes, the harder it would be for government-linked funds in the country.

“We really hope it happens soon, so we can know where we are heading to thereon.

“We don’t even mind doing all that we can in terms of facilitating the transition, if there will be any,” he told TMR.

Razif said it is currently business as usual for Cradle Fund, until the reshuffling happens.

Incorporated under the MoF in 2003, Cradle Fund was given the mandate to fund potential and high-calibre tech start-ups through its Cradle Investment Programme.

The firm has funded over 800 Malaysian tech start-ups and currently holds the highest commercialisation rate — at 75% — among government grants in the country.

Razif said one of the most notable start-ups that Cradle Fund funded is Grab, which was known as MyTeksi back then.