Despite the economic uncertainty, many companies are looking to grow their operations and assets. Whether through organic growth, or by acquisition, business leaders should carefully consider their growth finance options.
There is money for the right deals
Despite the negative economic indicators, and all round pessimism, it remains fairly easy to attract funding from the market. The key is to know what funders are looking for in a deal.
At the moment, funds are looking at particular sectors to invest in and renewable energy is a hot one right now. They are also interested in businesses which can create jobs and assist in the growth of small business. Essentially they are looking for positive stories, which are good for their business, and also good for the economy.
Banks on the other hand, like to fund growth because they enjoy more transactions and fees as a result of the relationship.
Make no mistake, the asset managers, credit funds and private lenders are also interested in ways to fund growth, however they tend to be cash flow lenders.
They don’t require the same level of surety, choosing to focus on sustainable cash flows and covenants rather than tangible security. They are not interested in the transactional business in the same way banks are and are happy to co-fund deals with banks.
Matching finance to growth
As your business grows and matures, your funding needs change. The need for flexible finance becomes critical, most especially when it comes to funding growth.
If you are looking to grow organically, but want to achieve this quickly, you need access to longer-term finance. Moreover, the prospect of paying back capital on a loan is not attractive and it makes sense to avoid amortising loans. Interest-only and ‘bullet’ loans (where the payment of the entire principle and sometimes the interest is due at the end of the loan term) are solid options to consider.
Acquisitions on the other hand can be more complicated. While there is also money available to fund acquisitions, you should prepare for a lot more work and due diligence and remain mindful of the timing of the deal.
It’s also important to realise that some funders may require equity in the transaction depending on the perceived risk in the deal. In situations such as these, it may be better to rather pay a higher interest rate on your finance, or negotiate that when certain covenant levels have been met, your interest rate decreases. It’s important to remember, though, that giving away equity to a funder is the most expensive form of debt you can get.
Many people still sing the praises of cash deals. Of course if you are able to pay cash on a deal it’s cleaner and simpler, but remember that you are using equity from your reserves and your return on equity will be lower.
I would recommend a balance of using your own money and debt finance. In this, you will need the correct gearing levels to get the best result for your business.
In commercial property in this market, for instance, a good, conservative ratio is one third owners equity, and two thirds from the bank – this will result in the cheapest rate. Gearing up to 90 percent is achievable and your return on equity will be good (since you didn’t put much equity into the deal), but your risk will increase quite significantly in this scenario.
Know what you don’t know
It is important to have the right help when structuring an acquisition. Work with your accountant and tax expert as well as your legal advisor. They have experience in this and can make sure you have covered every angle when assessing and structuring the deal.
Be aware that you will need a professional valuation of the business or property and it’s imperative to ensure you have met all the necessary compliance requirements. Only once this ground has been covered, should you begin to look at the most appropriate way to finance your deal.
Business owners often underestimate how long the process can be. What’s more they are often completely unaware that there are upwards of 60 companies out there that will finance businesses looking to grow. More often than not, they will simply reach out to the big four banks without looking for an organisation which can give them access to the myriad of financing opportunities out there.
Related: How To Find Funding in South Africa
It’s imperative that you fully understand all your options when it comes to financing a deal. Use an independent financing company who can help source the best deals and the best terms. They will give you an idea of the options as well as how to mix your solution to include short-term, long-term and structured debt.
An independent lending company will also be in a position to mix and match your growth finance institutions and products since they have working relationships with the banks (both big and small), the credit funds, the asset managers as well as select private funders – and are not beholden to any of them.
There is no doubt that the current local and global climate is contributing to an uptick in the number of businesses and assets being sold. This results in some excellent opportunities and business owners should be ready to take advantage of them. The trick however, is to make sure you grow your business in a way which exposes you to the least amount of risk. This requires you to understand your options and making sure you have a team of advisors who can guide you through the process.
Alternative Finance – Filling The Gap
Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding.
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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.
Alternative financers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral. An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.
The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.
One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.
Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.
A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.
This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.
CrowdFunding As E-commerce In South Africa
Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. This is why you should look into crowdfunding your ecommerce business in South Africa – from our experts.
“Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. Crowdfunding is an online method of fundraising that allows people all over the world to put their ideas or pitches onto a digital platform. These pitches are then available for people worldwide to see, and to decide whether or not they would like to support the campaign. There are four main types of crowdfunding: Rewards-based, donation-based, equity-based, and debt-based, each with its own unique purpose,” says Nicholas Dilley of South African crowdfunding platform Thundafund.
“In South Africa, crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and with many South Africans sceptical about making online transactions, it’s very much a rising industry. Rewards-based crowdfunding has become a growing force. Thundafund is the brainchild of entrepreneur Patrick Schofield, who founded the company in 2013. The way that rewards-based crowdfunding differs from any other form, is that in exchange for the money raised, the project creator is expected to give something back to the backer in the form of a reward. These rewards can vary, anything from a thank you card to a tangible product. However, when selecting rewards for your campaign, it is important that you keep your project and potential backer in mind.”
In 2017 alone, Thundafund raised more than R8 million, which was almost equivalent to the previous four years combined.
“In South Africa, we say that, realistically, you can expect a maximum of R150 000 in crowdfunding. However, we are constantly being surprised. It really comes down to how amazing your project is, how big the network is, and if the rewards are what people want. There is no reason to believe that any start-up couldn’t raise over R1 million if founders put the work in and justify how the money will be spent,” says Nicholas.
The rising of Sugarbird Gin
One of Thundafund’s biggest recent success stories was Sugarbird Gin, which managed to raise R1 086 973. The gin is an idea conceived of by a four-person company called Steel Cut Spirits.
“As a company, we care about crafted products that have a story and an ability to excite, inspire and bring people together. We also have a proudly South African desire to put our produce on the global map, and an interest in great local gins that can use fynbos to create amazing flavours,” says Steel Cut Spirits CEO, Rob Heyns.
Despite having already had success in the industry, Rob and his co-founders identified crowdfunding as one of the best ways to bring Sugarbird Gin to the market.
“All FMCG products face the three-part challenge of competition, barriers to scale and working capital constraints. The model of rewards-based crowdfunding addresses all three of these challenges at the same time,” says Rob.
“By launching via a crowdfunding campaign, we were able to stand out from many other products on the market, and involve our new friends and fans in our ongoing mission at the same time.
“We were able to operate at scale from day one by consolidating these first orders and thus produce great gins at a better price by working with the volumes of more established gin companies. We were also able to access funds upfront before producing batches, which provided the cash flow needed to grow quickly. There are very few better ways than crowdfunding to test a concept, solve cash flow issues, scale to proper production from day one and stand out from the competition. When I decided to go ahead, I studied crowdfunding thoroughly for two months while ensuring that our team had the required skillset to be able to execute.”
With the crowdfunding of Sugarbird Gin, Steel Cut Sprits decided to treat the campaign like the online selling of a product.
“Rewards-based crowdfunding is essentially a form of e-commerce, as you are selling products or services, so we approached it from the angle of an e-commerce campaign. Your product and marketing thus need to be spot on. We employed an evolving product strategy of refining our offers based on sales feedback before and during the campaign. We also applied a plethora of online marketing strategies, including audio-visual, digital marketing, social media, PR and even direct selling to large potential backers,” says Rob.
Nicholas agrees that crowdfunding needs to be approached in a professional manner. Most people will judge your business purely on your crowdfunding campaign and its funding page.
“Businesses and start-ups must have campaigns that appear very professional. The campaign should also be viewed as a marketing exercise that will allow the entrepreneur to test his or her product in the real world and receive feedback. Doing fun activations, like launch parties and events can also be a great way to get the word out there about your project and brand.”
SAB Transforms Supply Chains
Supplier Development Programmes grow black-owned suppliers and create jobs.
The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested more than R200 million into creating an inclusive supply chain that incorporates black-owned and black women-owned SMEs through its supplier development programmes, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive. In addition, more than 100 jobs have been created through these efforts.
SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive aim to create a diversified and inclusive supply chain by supporting the growth of black-owned suppliers through business development support and funding. The programmes are two of four entrepreneurship development programmes run by SAB to help create 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2022 — SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive.
SAB’s agriculture programmes also contribute towards the aim to create jobs by growing emerging farmers.
“From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and to contribute towards government’s efforts to grow the economy and reduce unemployment in the country,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President, SAB and AB InBev Africa.
“We recognise that one of the major hurdles for SMEs in South Africa is the ability to gain entry into big business and form part of their supply chains. This requires a symbiotic relationship with big business working alongside smaller suppliers.”
SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive cohesively solve the challenges of creating a healthy pipeline of suppliers that represent the demographics of the country. SAB Accelerator has piloted ten businesses that have created 29 permanent and 79 part-time jobs in a period of just six months, and is currently incubating 24 businesses as part of the official post-pilot intake. SAB Thrive has invested R100 million in seven businesses, which have created 46 new jobs. In addition, the programme has contributed R140 million in new B-BBEE preferential spend.
The SAB Accelerator is an in-house programme dedicated to developing black-owned and black women-owned suppliers. Geared towards fast-tracking participants’ growth, the programme employs ten highly experienced business coaches and ten engineers, offering both tailored business and deep technical coaching to the participants.
It has a three-phased approach consisting of:
- Diagnostic: Screening the business’s current situation and systematically identifying gaps and opportunities for growth.
- Catalyst: Proposing an intensive three-month coaching intervention addressing key business functional and technical areas of improvement or growth.
- Amplify: Providing additional business development to support graduates of the Catalyst Programme.
The SAB Accelerator strongly focuses on enhancing market visibility and access of its participants.
- Existing black-owned or black woman-owned suppliers currently servicing SAB’s supply chain at the time of application.
- Existing black-owned or black women-owned businesses that have potential to join the SAB supply chain based on their product or service.
The SAB Thrive fund is an enterprise and supplier development (E&SD) fund set up to transform the company’s supplier base. The fund was established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a black private equity fund manager and SME investment company. The aim is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers to represent our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive investees benefit from 100% black equity capital and business support.
The fund invests growth equity capital into SAB’s existing high-growth black-owned suppliers, furthering their profitable expansion into the SAB supply chain without diluting the black-ownership of these businesses.
Existing white-owned suppliers are provided equity capital to support the enhancement of their black ownership, while facilitating the introduction of black entrepreneurs to their business. The intention is to apprentice the individual to take over the business in the near future.
- Black-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to grow their business through access to black-owned growth equity capital.
- Existing white-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to transform their B-BBEE ownership.
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