- Collaborative platform will enable smoother cross-border investments and business
- Wider network means greater opportunities for startups in the region
THE Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) along with angel and investment groups from seven Asean countries announced on Nov 1 their strategic alliance in the form of the Asean Angel Alliance (AAA).
The AAA’s participating groups are Vietnam’s HATCH! Ventures, Cambodia Investors Corporation, Myanmar’s Yangon Angels, the Bangkok Venture Club, Singapore’s Business Angel Network (Southeast Asia), the Angel Investment Network Indonesia and the Philippines’ 1000 Angels.
The AAA is a joint effort between the participating groups that aims to focus on Asean’s angel investment landscape. It will also see the angel networks of member countries working together to contribute in whatever way then can to common objectives.
Bridging investment borders
“AAA’s presence in the Asean angel ecosystem will open up networks to a wider community of angels and champion angel investing in the region,” said MBAN president Dr Sivapalan Vivekarajah at the launch.
“Cross-border investing is challenging in Asean because of the diverse markets, and different cultures, languages and ways of thinking. The only way you can do this well is to know people in these countries and what better way to do it than with other angels who are already there and know the country and ecosystem well,” he said.
According to Bangkok Venture Club co-founder Mark Wolf, as it is also very difficult for investors to meet people in other countries, especially people who are in the startup business, the AAA provides a huge advantage in that it allows the angel groups to refer investors and deals to other countries.
“This is a real-world problem and this group is a solution for that,” added HATCH! Ventures partner Csaba Bundik.
The launch was preceded by a closed-door session the day before where the AAA discussed their ideas and strategies. MBAN executive director Razif Aziz explained that member groups will look to support one another through the sharing of know-how, experience and networks.
The AAA hopes to eventually possess harmonised methodologies or frameworks to help ease movement of angels and capital between countries, fuelling intra-Asean investment and networking opportunities.
“In the near future, AAA hopes to conduct activities in the form of educational programmes to help create a critical mass of awareness in angel investing in Asean,” he said.
Angel Investment Network Indonesia head David Soukhasing opined that this alliance is an amazing opportunity for the groups to learn each other, as the platform will be a continuous effort of information sharing.
1000 Angels founder and CEO Nicole Paterno added that as some groups in the alliance are more mature than others, there is great opportunity to educate fledgling angel groups about various issues such as accreditation of investors, safety nets and other best practices.
Benefits to startups, economies
The AAA is also expected to be beneficial to startups with regional ambitions as it aims to act as a focal point from which they can easily connect and interact with a regional network of angels.
There is no single fund that the AAA operates; rather each group either has its own fund or is made up of investors who invest individually. The alliance is estimated to have a little more than 1,000 investors throughout the seven countries.
The alliance representatives were unable to speculate about how many startups it will have under its belt in the coming year, though all were in agreement that the alliance will benefit intra-Asean economic growth.
“Every Asean leader believes that startups can be the ticket to economic growth. I think every country will benefit from this ecosystem,” said Wolf, adding that as interest in startups grows in Asean, both individuals and governments will be looking for the best investments.
“We hope that there is more cross-border collaboration and alliances like this to facilitate that. Startups are the coming wave of the world and Southeast Asia is right in the middle of it.”
Business Angel Network South East Asia chairman Dr Mark Hon concurred, saying that the traditional growth engines of the US and China are slowing down, making Asean the new growth engine. The alliance will enable investors and startups to look closer to home for opportunities, spurring growth in the region.
“All Asean governments believe that the future will be driven by entrepreneurship and technology. Angels bring value to any ecosystem through funding, mentorship and guidance. If we put investors and entrepreneurship together, we will see growth in every ecosystem and economy,” said Sivapalan.
“This network helps in many ways, not just for investors looking for investments abroad but also for our own investee companies that are going abroad to seek investment there.”
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