South African entrepreneurs often express the need for expansion of local funding options. Mzansi Gold is a new South African angel network that connects angel investors with high-potential entrepreneurs.
Mzansi Gold was started by three local entrepreneurs, Colette Symanowitz, Marc Ashton and Andy Hadfield, to serve both investors and entrepreneurs. Its aims are to share research and networks and to pool investment capital and expertise in screening business concepts. They focus on the networking and introduction aspect of entrepreneurial businesses in various industries, including technology, biotech, medical, and retail.
An angel investor is a privately wealthy individual who invests their own money in start-ups, normally in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. Angel investors invest in companies at a much earlier stage than is usual for venture capitalists (VCs).
Angels play an important role in getting start-ups off the ground: for instance Google might never have got to the point of needing funding from Kleiner and Sequoia, two of the largest VCs in Silicon Valley, if they hadn't received $100 000 from Andy Bechtolsheim to start with.
Entrepreneurs who apply to the Mzansi Gold network are put through a tough but fair screening programme. This aims to increase the likelihood of investment by connecting the angels with only those entrepreneurs with the greatest potential. Entrepreneurs who are accepted are given further training to bring them to the stage where they are ready to pitch for investment.
Investors are also screened to make sure that the best matches are made between skills and investment profile, and the right set of prospective businesses. The identities of investors are carefully protected to prevent them from being pestered by people from outside the network.
In our interview with Eric Edelstein last month, one of the ways he suggested that South Africa could more effectively follow the Silicon Valley example was to improve the state of early-stage investing. With first AngelHub and now Mzansi Gold it seems we're headed in the right direction.
To apply to receive funding or to be part of the Mzansi Gold angel network, apply here.
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