Qupital, a one-year-old Hong Kong-based startup that addresses cash flow issues for SMEs, has closed a $2 million seed funding round.
The startup wants to free small companies on tight budgets from the restraints of unpaid invoices. That’s to say that a large chunk of an SME’s working cash flow is locked up in invoices that may take up to 90 days to actually pay out.
Qupital tackles that issue by getting companies to take a loan to cover 80-95 percent of the value of the invoice
With an estimated 300,000 SMEs located in Hong Kong, there’s an attractive initial market to be tackled. The link with Alibaba will help Qupital reach traders and SMEs — which represent its core focus . While the startup said there’s no precise plan on new locations yet, they hinted that countries with strong export sectors, such as Vietnam, Taiwan or Thailand would be among the obvious choices.
Read the rest of the story here.
How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?
– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability
A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.
The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.
Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.
In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.
While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.
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