Since the outbreak of civil war in the early nineties the Somali region has been affected by decades of political and economical instability. This nearly continuous state of conflict has seriously curtailed economic growth. As the region started the road to recovery in 2012 strengthening the private sector and catalyzing investment have become goals shared by stakeholders both inside and outside the area.
Somaliland Investment Forum
The Somaliland Investment Forum is a three-day event bringing together policymakers, donors, investors, and the Somaliland business community to discuss ways to strengthen private sector investment. The Forum is taking place in Hergeisa September 19 – 21 and is organized by the Somaliland Ministry of Trade & Investment in partnership with Shuraako, a program of the One Earth Foundation. The Forum follows the successful ‘Returning Capital for Growth’ Somali Investment Forum organized by Shuraako, the US Embassy, Nairobi and the World Bank in March 2015 in Nairobi.
ABAN, the African Business Angel Network, has been invited to facilitate the conversation on early stage investing and host an “Angel Investor Masterclass”. Innovative early stage ventures that have the potential to yield good returns and high social impact, but require less than USD 1 million in capital are the most difficult segment of the SME pipeline to reach. They often times have a minimal track record and lack the collateral needed to secure capital from local banks. Informal investors or business angels, usually experienced entrepreneurs themselves with domain specific expertise, can play a vital role in the financing of these ventures and mentor entrepreneurs as they launch and grow their companies.
ABAN will highlight trends and developments as well as challenges and proposed solutions in early stage funding across the African continent. Stephen Gugu who runs Investor NetworkViktoria Ventures in Kenya will join ABAN cofounder David van Dijk and VC4A’s head of Investor Relations & Research Lead Thomas van Halen to lead the sessions.
“It is wonderful to join the conversation on early stage investing in Somaliland” David van Dijk comments. “Informal investors in Somaliland and especially in the diaspora play an even more significant role in this region as compared to other parts of the continent given other sources of capital are hardly available”.
During the Angel Investor Masterclass we will zoom in on the role informal investors or business angels play in taking early stage ventures through the most risky parts of their life cycle through provision of coaching, mentoring, seed and growth capital. We examine closely the question such as: how does angel investing work, investing in syndicates, how to get started. An expert panel of investors from different countries will share best practices with the audience.
In line with the outcomes from the Investment Survey Report written by the Shuraako team, VC4A acknowledges the importance of capital flows from the Somali diaspora network. “For investments to scale, changes are necessary. The formation of new financial products with a mix of local and diaspora investors (e.g. syndicates) would be very welcomed by the local early stage startup scene” as stated by VC4A’s Thomas van Halen.
Work in Progress! Project
The Angel Investor Masterclass is part of a series of investor events organized by ABAN and VC4A under the umbrella of the Work in Progress! Project – a 3-year program implemented by the consortium of Oxfam, VC4A, Butterfly Works and IOM. The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and aims to unlock the economic potential of young men and women in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia by enabling them to start own enterprises. As part of the project, VC4A partners with Innovate Ventures to accelerate startups and will work together with ABAN to strengthen local investor networks.