Angels to fund first five companies shortly

Angels to fund first five companies shortly

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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Angel investors are contemplating pumping funds into five companies at roughly US$100,000 (J$11.5 m) each, according to Nelson Gray, World Bank consultant charged with developing an angel network across the Caribbean.

This forms the latest effort in the move to widen avenues for accessing funding outside of banks and the stock exchange.

"We currently have five companies that are in light due dilegence," Gray said after his address at a seminar put on by the Branson Centre of Entrepeneurship on Saturday at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston. "One is in the service sector, two are in technology, another one is a service company and another is a software development company."

Gray, a UK accountant and serial investor, came to the Caribbean last September hired by InfoDev, the grant arm of the World Bank, to develop an angel investor network across the Caribbean.

There are currently three investor groups including First Angels in Kingston, Alpha Angels in Montego Bay and Trident Angels in Barbados.

"I would anticipate that the early investments would be in services rather than technology because the investors are more comfortable in service businesses," he said of the investments ranging between US$50,000 to US$100,000.

Gray is the director of the Caribbean Business Angel Advisory Programme at InfoDev. The programme is affiliated with the Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), an initiative of InfoDev launched with a US$20-million contribution from Canada, which aims to promote private sector development and small business competitiveness.

Gray indicates that the main challenges include a lack of understanding about the role of business angels and also a lack of trust.

"There are stories of people being ripped off. It's hard to find the reality of that but the stories are out there. Then there is not really wanting a partner in business, which is also related," he said. "We need to move [away from simply] creating an income, to creating wealth. That is creating capital value, not just a salary for the entrepeneur."

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