Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Angel Investors has Increasing importance for entrepreneurs

As entrepreneurs around the globe look for alternative ways of finding new sources of finance to build the sectors that will drive their economic recovery, Business Angels will form a critical part of the the solution.

New research recently published  by NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) reports for the first time that Business Angels stand to make a substantial profit from investing in start-ups, with an average Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 22 per cent over four years, compared with 27 per cent IRR in the US.

Business Angels - investors who put personal money directly into young unquoted companies - are a significant source of early stage finance. But despite their increasing importance, little is known about their outcomes and returns in the South Africa.

The report reviewed 1,080 investments. More than half were directed at very early stage, pre-revenue start-ups - the riskiest time of a company's life.  This was reflected in the investment returns. Despite the fact that the majority of investments make a loss (56 per cent in this study), a substantial number (44 per cent in this study) lead to positive returns with 9 per cent generating more than 10 times the capital invested.

The report also suggests a number of strategic choices and practices that may lead to better investments outcomes such as investing in one's area of expertise, performing at least 20 hours of due diligence before investing and staying connected with the business, preferably at a board level.

Commenting on the research, NESTA's Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum says "Angel investing can be a strong viable complement to traditional forms of investment which are not making anywhere close to 22 per cent returns. 

The study finds that the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) and other tax incentives contribute substantially to angel activity with 82 per cent of British angels using the EIS at least once; and the angels stating that about 24 per cent of their investments would not have been made without the tax incentives.

Anthony Clarke, Chairman of the BBAA says " This research has proven that Business Angels are now the key source of investment in early stage high risk companies. BBAA estimates that angels are currently  investing c.R1billion p.a. in the country  and  it is important  that  further individuals should be encouraged  to consider this asset class supported by  targeted financial incentives. Angels bring not only their own finance, but  business -building skills.  South Africa needs to significantly increase the pool of business angels to invest in the successful innovators of tomorrow."

The report says that on average Business Angels in South Africa invest R42,000 and each investor makes around 6 investments.  Investors typically reviewed 20 opportunities each and acquired 8 per cent of a company.  Co-investments are seen as the preference for investing in start-ups with on average 5 investors co-investing in any one round. The figures generated by this study were comparable to the performance of the US Angel market relative to the size of the Angel community.

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