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Startups

Philippines chases neighbors in Southeast Asian unicorn race

Tale of two ride-hailers -- Micab and Grab -- shows wide gap in funding and risk taking

The Philippines is struggling to spur entrepreneurship, with the president of one mobile carrier explaining, "There is a desire for many [workers] to take a secure and stable path." (Photo by Keiichiro Asahara)

MANILA -- Philippine ride-hailing service Micab and its Singapore-based counterpart Grab both debuted in 2012. But while Grab has become Southeast Asia's biggest unicorn, with a valuation of around $14 billion and plans to raise $2 billion more this year, Micab aims to top a modest $2 million in its first major funding round.

This contrast has not been lost on Philippine policymakers and venture capitalists, who are wrestling with how to nurture tech startups or risk being left behind in the growing digital economy.

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