TikTok is planning to pour “billions of dollars” in Southeast Asia over the next few years, aiming to drive growth in one of its biggest markets amid heightened scrutiny in the U.S.
The company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, made the announcement Thursday during a speech at a TikTok forum in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
The investment comes as the app’s e-commerce marketplace, TikTok Shop, is experiencing some growth following its expansion to more countries in the region last year. But its still trailing more established power players, like online shopping sites Shopee and Lazada.
The popular video-sharing app, though, is attempting to harness the power of its user base. Chew said Thursday that the app generates more than 325 million visitors in Southeast Asia each month. And the research group Insider Intelligence expects its user base in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines to increase by more than 10% this year.
TikTok did not provide a detailed breakdown of how it plans to spend its investments. But Chew said the company would provide training and support to small and medium-sized businesses. He also said TikTok will help “drive youth entrepreneurship” in partnership with Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN — an organization of 10 member states in Southeast Asia.
Chew said the TikTok has 8,000 employees in Southeast Asia and 2 million Indonesian vendors who sell products on the app.