See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Abeja, the company offering solutions for retail stores to improve customer path or traffic based on image analysis and machine learning technologies, announced today that it has fundraised 200 million yen (about $2 million) from Inspire PNB Partners. Inspire PNB is the joint venture between Japanese investment firm Inspire and Malaysia’s state-run firm Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), managing a Sharia-compliant private equity fund called PNB-INSPiRE Ethical Fund 1 (formed in April of 2014, valued around 6 billion yen = $60 million). The fund recently invested in Japanese private cloud platform developer Keepdata.
The fund was raised in a series B round, meaning that the company has secured approximately a total of $7 million in this round combined with their $5 million funding last month. The company obtained funding in a seed round from Inspire, the parent company of Inspire PNB.
In Islamic countries, since Sharia (Islamic law) prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loaning money, hedge funds or other financing schemes common in Western countries are unlikely to be accepted. Meanwhile, Malaysia has now become an Islamic finance hub offering Sharia-compliant financing schemes. Startups receiving funds from such schemes can expand their services into Islamic markets more smoothly, just as Halal-approved restaurants can.
Abeja claims that the company will use the funds to strengthen their ASEAN expansion effort and to gain competitive power in the market globally. They haven’t specified which market to target but huge Islamic markets in the ASEAN region include Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy