• NNA/Kyodo

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Online learning startup Manabie International Pte. Ltd., headed by a Japanese entrepreneur, is stepping up its business in Vietnam, raising ¥520 million ($4.8 million) in its initial year with an eye on future expansion in Southeast Asia.

Manabie, established in Singapore a year ago by founding CEO Takuya Honma, launched the online education platform service in Vietnam on Jan. 10.

The firm now logs more than 100,000 users and has teamed up with 30 private and Japanese schools, Honma told NNA on Wednesday.

In Vietnam, the number of registered users, ranging from elementary to high school students, has rocketed amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in school closures for nearly three months.

Honma, also one of the founders of British online learning service startup Quipper Ltd., said Vietnamese people allocate about 20 percent of household income to education, adding that the distance learning market is still undeveloped.

Manabie said in a statement Wednesday that it intends to strengthen its services across Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, aided by its initial stage of fundraising largely from Japanese individual investors, and venture capitalists such as Genesia Ventures Inc. of Tokyo.

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