Hong Kong startup ICW eyes supply chain diversification demand amid trade war

Hong Kong startup ICW eyes supply chain diversification demand amid trade war

For American importers, discovering suppliers today may be difficult not solely on account of COVID-19 journey restrictions. The U.S. authorities’s entity record designations, human rights-related sanctions, amongst different commerce blacklists concentrating on Chinese corporations have additionally rattled U.S. provide chains.

One younger firm referred to as International Compliance Workshop, or ICW, is decided to make sourcing simpler for firms world wide because it accomplished a recent spherical of funding. The Hong Kong-based startup has simply raised $5.75 million as a part of its Series A spherical, boosting its complete funding to round $10 million, co-founder and CEO Garry Lam informed TechCrunch.

ICW works like a matchmaker for suppliers and patrons, however in contrast to current choices like Alibaba’s B2B platform or worldwide commerce reveals, ICW additionally vets suppliers over compliance, product high quality, and accreditation. It gathers all that info into its rising database of over 40,000 suppliers — 80% of that are at present in China — and recommends them to prospects primarily based on particular person wants.

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Founded in 2016, ICW’s present shopper base contains a few of the world’s largest retailers, together with Ralph Lauren, Prenatal Retail Group, Blokker, Kmart, and a serious American pharmacy chain that declined to be named.

ICW’s newest funding spherical was led by Infinity Ventures Partners with participation from Integrated Capital and current buyers MindWorks Capital and the Hong Kong authorities’s $2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund.

Supply chain shift

In line with the continued shift of sourcing exterior China, partly because of the U.S.-China commerce warfare and China’s rising labor prices, ICW has seen extra prospects diversifying their provide chains. But the transition has limitations within the brief run.

“It’s nonetheless very tough to seek out suppliers of sure product classes, for instance, Bluetooth gadgets and energy banks, in different nations,” noticed Lam. “But for garment and textile, the transition already started to occur a decade in the past.”

In Southeast Asia, which has been changing a substantial amount of Chinese manufacturing exercise, every nation has its slight specialization. Whereas Vietnam abounds with picket furnishings suppliers, Thailand is understood for plastic items and Malaysia is an efficient supply for medical provides, stated Lam.

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When it involves trickier compliance burdens, reminiscent of human rights sanctions, ICW depends on third-party certification institutes to display and confirm suppliers.

“There is a [type of] qualification normal that verifies whether or not a provider has fulfilled its company social duty… like whether or not the manufacturing unit fulfills the labor regulation, the minimal labor rights, or the payroll, the whole lot,” Lam defined.

ICW plans to make use of the recent proceeds to additional develop its merchandise, together with its compliance administration system, product testing platform, and B2B sourcing website.


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