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Accessing Angel Investors

Animating (and negotiating) the angel investment scene in South Africa.

Wesley Lynch

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Angel investors generally get involved at the very early stages of a start-up’s life. Unlike venture capital and private equity providers and banks, angel funders are willing to accept a comparatively higher risk of business failure. Typically, they are willing to accept a viable business case, while certain VCs or banks may require a proven trading history. Angel investors may fund ventures to produce a working prototype or launch their product into the market, while most VCs will only fund from the commercialisation phase of the enterprise – including driving growth, arranging launch into foreign markets, arrangements of any mass production and the finalisation of its business models or routes to market.

The angel investment scene

Angel investors play an important part in making funding available to businesses at an early stage. In the UK, angels provide about £750 million in annual funding (R8,2 billion) to SMEs – the single largest source of early-stage capital in that country.

Early-stage funding can have a great impact on the recipient. High-growth industries in particular, such as technology, can benefit from it on a large scale. While the US lost 1.3 million jobs from 2009 to 2011, a star turn of funding-backed tech start-ups swelled their ranks impressively – LinkedIn added 79% of its 1 300 current employees, Groupon 99% out of a total of 7 100, and Zynga 92% out of 2 200.

Conducive environment

But angel investment requires an environment that encourages its activities. In the US State of Louisiana, a law offering tax credits to angel investors spurred investments of $62 million in 57 companies between 2005 and 2009.  The UK tax regime sees angel investors receiving immediate deductions of 30% of their investment, with no tax on investment gains for investments held for more than 3 years.  The incentive is quoted by many UK angels as a key initiator of their investment and the UK government is currently in consultations to increase incentives to ensure even further support to the very early stage businesses. Add to this that the British Business Angels Association (BBAA), together with the UK Regional Growth Fund, launched a GBP50m Angel Co-investment fund whereby government directly supports Angel Investment.

On the opposite end of the scale, the South African early-stage investment scene is not nearly as conducive with no formal incentives, either tax or other, yet in place. As a result, only about eight angel funded deals are reported each year. While certain incentives are being considered, the government would do well to see the impact that angel investment into SMEs and high growth potential businesses has had globally, and create far reaching incentives to drive private capital into this investment sector. The recently launched Job’s fund specifically excluded start-ups, missing a clear opportunity to provide much needed support in a very promising sector.  Clearly, resolving the problem at national policy level will help stimulate angel investment deals in SA, going a significant way towards achieving some of the government’s growth objectives

Succeeding with getting funding

Meanwhile, what can start-up enterprises do to increase their chances of success? In truth, many do not appreciate the amount of research and information needed to support their application and are genuinely surprised when they’re rejected by the few sources of funding out there.

Very often their failure has little to do with the product, and much more with the way it is presented. A crucial component to include in the case for funding is an indication that the applicants have a thorough understanding of their target market, the opportunity, the competition and the business model, backed by adequate research and experience.

Ask someone

Entrepreneurs should get help with their applications, from someone who has represented investors successfully before, in order to increase their likelihood of success. The right consulting partner will assist the business with a realistic business strategy to enter and grow in its target market and, where appropriate, raise funding to further this process.

In the latter regard, it is advisable to find a partner with the right VC and angel investor networks. Of critical importance here is the ability to help match business objectives to investor expectations.

Why it’s hard, even with help

Many firms support start-ups with various offerings, all of them playing an important role. Most however struggle with obtaining funding for their charges, due to the limited number of funders willing to invest in early-stage businesses and the highly specific mandates of those that do provide it.

Ultimately what is needed is more angel investors to build a mature eco-system for start-up funding, which caters for applicants at all the different stages of business development including seed stage, start-up and growth phase businesses.

There have been repeated calls for new blood among SA’s angel funders, namely benefactors who are willing to invest small amounts at a very early stage, thus helping to build the experience needed to qualify for later-stage funding from VCs and growth capital funders.

Things are improving

For now, angel investment remains under the radar, difficult to access and at best ad hoc in their funding.

But entrepreneurs shouldn’t despair. The market for early investments received a much-needed boost with recent exit deals brokered for SA start-ups by PoweredbyVC (HBD’s fund managers). This again proves that start-ups with the right support and investment have it in them to attract the right exit partners – including Fortune 500 companies.

More help is at hand, with other recent additions to the angel investment scene. These include AngelHub, a new angel investment group currently being finalised.  Start-ups should take advantage of these new opportunities, while also considering some of the aforementioned guidelines. SA’s angel investors may yet fulfil their potential for boosting high-growth industries and significant job creation.

Wesley Lynch is the founder and CEO of Realmdigital, a top South African e-business strategy and technology partner, specialising in Web, Social and Mobile platforms. As a technology entrepreneur, Wesley has over a decade of experience in the financial, business and software development industries. He is also the co-founder of MyTrueSpark which sees him regularly consulting with start-ups, Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors. Wesley has recently been recognised in the Old Mutual Entrepreneurship Guide as one of the 38 emerging South African tech entrepreneurs to watch.

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Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa

After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.

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SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.

“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”

From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.

The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.

“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.

The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:

  • Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
  • South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
  • Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
  • Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
  • Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
  • Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
  • Ireland: Pago Payments

It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.

There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.

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She Works Hard For Her Money – So Pay Her On Time

Sage research finds that female entrepreneurs suffer more negative effects from late payments than men. Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, comments on the importance of equal pay for equal work.

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Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.

With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.

The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.

Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.

South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.

Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.

In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.

There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.

Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.

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Entrepreneur Today

#RiseToTheChallenge Now By Visiting The SleepOut™ Movement

The SleepOut™ Movement was born out of a desire to address homelessness as a threat to human dignity and the realisation of fundamental human rights. The SleepOut™ Movement is underpinned by the philosophies of Social Innovation and Engaging Business ‘As A Force for Change’.

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Primary Beneficiaries appointed by The CEO Sleepout Trust™ for 2018 are Liliesleaf Farm and Museum and The Qunu Food Security Project. These Primary Beneficiaries will be awarded a portion of funds raised from a series of The SleepOut™ Movement Events taking place during July this year honouring the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Donations by the Trust to Primary Beneficiaries from previous years’ events amounted to an impressive R38-Million.

“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world!”, Nelson Mandela.

The SleepOut™ Movement brings together Businesses and Influencers to purposely and effectively address the Five Pillars that alleviate homelessness: Shelter, Nutrition, Healthcare, Education, and Community. Curated by social enterprise The Philanthropic Collection, whose mission is Creating Conscious Capital, The SleepOut™ Movement aims to spearhead innovation in philanthropy by moving beyond current practices and beliefs, employing business strategies to do good for others.

The SleepOut™ Movement’s mission in 2018 is embodied by its Special Chapters, The Nelson Mandela CEO SleepOut™ – Liliesleaf Edition and The Nelson Mandela Legacy SleepOut™ – Robben Island Edition.

Related: The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit

On Wednesday 11 July 2018, The Nelson Mandela CEO SleepOut™ – Liliesleaf Edition, aims to host 200 CEOs (each with four distinguished guests whom embody Madiba’s leadership and humanitarian qualities) as they #RiseToTheChallenge, spending a winter’s night at the iconic Liliesleaf Farm and Museum in Rivonia, Johannesburg.  In addition, an auction will be opened to participating CEO’s for Madiba’s outside bedroom at Liliesleaf where he, Madiba, spent countless hours writing, reading and reflecting. Opening bids start at R250 000.00 with an overall goal of raising R30-Million.

On Wednesday 18 July 2018 and what would have been Madiba’s 100th birthday, 67 Global Influencers, Business leaders and Celebrities will spend the night on Robben Island, inside the maximum-security prison and courtyard where Mandela spent 18 years. On this same night, an auction will be held for the highest bidder commencing at $250 00.00 to sleep inside Cell Number 7 – Madiba’s home during his imprisonment. The aim is to raise $6,7 million through our 67 Participants at a Pledge of $100,000.00 each.

As a Primary Beneficiary focused on Community Upliftment, Education and Nutrition, the Qunu Food Security Project is operated by Dr. Brylyne Chitsunge, Pan African Ambassador for Food Security, who stated, “Through the funds generated as a Primary Beneficiary of The SleepOut™ Movement our plan is to develop a platform for Agricultural Stakeholders to work with 250 members of the Qunu community on Mandela’s farm ensuring the development of agriculture and commercial farming within More/….2

South Africa. The funds received will determine how many farmers are trained, the amount of product supplied and the number of bursaries that can be awarded to Scholars wanting to study Agriculture”.

Beneficiaries/….2

The second of the 2 Primary Beneficiaries is Liliesleaf Farm & Museum, once the nerve centre of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, and is today one of South Africa’s foremost, award-winning heritage sites, where the journey to democracy in South Africa is honoured.    

Recognised as one of South Africa’s leading heritage sites, Liliesleaf opened to the public in June 2008 and has since attracted thousands of local and international visitors, eager to understand and engage with a pivotal period in South Africa’s liberation struggle. Sir Nicolas Wolpe, CEO of Liliesleaf Trust, states, “We are honoured to have not only been chosen as the venue for The CEO SleepOut™ but also as one of the Primary Beneficiaries of The SleepOut™ Movement enabling us to continue our work in preserving our heritage as an important symbolic presence of our country’s struggle and through our educational programmes we continue to inspire younger audiences to face the challenges of today”.

Related: How To Develop A Unique Brand Name In A Global Marketplace And Protect It

In addition to the Primary Beneficiaries The SleepOut™ Movement benefits a number of Secondary as well as Satellite Beneficiaries, with the funds raised through the 2 auctions taking place at Liliesleaf and on Robben Island benefitting the Prison-to-College Pipeline SA developed through a partnership between Stellenbosch University and the South African Department of Correctional Services & Western Cape Community Organisations aimed at integrating them back into their communities.

#RiseToTheChallenge now by visiting The SleepOut™ Movement – https://theceosleepoutza.co.za

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