Mon | Aug 10, 2020

World angel network lobbying for new policy mindset

Published:Friday | July 3, 2020 | 12:26 AM

World Business Angels Investment Forum, WBAF, will submit an economic and financial support plan to the G20 leadership to alert policymakers about the urgent needs of start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.

Chairman of the WBAF, Baybars Altuntas, said at a press conference on Wednesday that better policies need to be developed to solve the challenges entrepreneurs will face after COVID-19 ceases to be a problem.

“Simply keeping physical distance, washing hands and staying at home is not enough,” he said.

“We are convinced that we will be able to present a better road map of post-pandemic times for start-ups, scale-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and investors if a greater emphasis is placed on knowledge, which is central to the transition debate to a ‘new normal’,” Altuntas said.

The group of angel investors is urging governments to start thinking more about policies to convert urban centres into smart cities, to ease access to the internet, develop better bandwidths for faster internet connections, provide internet-enabled devices to families and groups that can’t afford them so that they have access to online educational services, and provide easier access to healthcare and financial services.

“Since a new paradigm for educational systems is on the way, we should accelerate the financial inclusion of these people so they can benefit from the digital transformation,” he said.

Post-pandemic considerations

In developing smart cities that are data-driven, Altuntas said city governments can incorporate facial scanning for body temperature, but without revealing identity, which could serve to improve infection control at railway stations, airports, and at events where many people come together, such as concerts.

As for the investing community, the post-pandemic considerations for various stages of capital deployment will include three catchphrases: “responsible finance, impact investment, and digital access to finance”.

“Pitching, closing deals, and monitoring investments digitally, all the way to exit, will be the new normal of the start-up economy. We will see more online demo days, online meetings for due diligence, online signing of deal terms, and online follow-ups after the deal is closed,” he said.

“COVID-19 has showed us how the world’s citizens are interconnected. If a single virus was able to shut down the world economy in eight weeks, it can also manage the start of a more digitally connected world,” he added.

WBAF is an affiliate partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion. To inform the report to be submitted to the G20 leadership, the angel investor group conducted a global survey whose respondents included business owners across multiple industries in around 81 countries.

It elicited opinions on issues in a variety of domains, ranging from financing, the workforce, business model realignment, and types of support that are needed during the health crisis.

Jamaica has two angel networks. Alpha Angels, based in Montego Bay, and Kingston-based First Angels Jamaica.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com