This month, the Global Business Angels Network (GBAN) commenced the first call in its Field Report series on the topic of Cross-Border Investing. Candace Johnson, GBAN co-chair and president of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN), led the discussion moderated by fellow co-chair John May based on her own considerable experience with investing across borders.
“I never think of it as cross-border investing,” Johnson said at the start of the call. “For me, its regional, its continental, it’s cross-continental, and its global.”
For Johnson, the major reason to invest globally is that entrepreneurs are increasingly going global. Startups are either growing out of emerging markets or looking to enter markets where they see a need to solve complex problems – which means there is an opportunity for angels to invest in these ventures. To keep up with globalization in the startup ecosystem, Johnson said, angel investors can and should look for new opportunities beyond their own regional borders.
She said there has been a major trend among angel investors toward forming regional associations that are aimed at collaborating across borders. As president of EBAN, Johnson has also seen the creation of other regional associations like the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) and the Middle East Business Angels Network (MBAN), aimed at bringing together angel groups in those complex, emerging markets. And as part of movements like Rising Tide Europe and Rising Tide Africa, she has helped increase the participation of women in angel investing around the world.
Her key piece of advice for investing across borders was to work with someone in the local ecosystem who understands the investing environment. Her own association, Sophia Business Angels, was founded by 50 members representing 17 nationalities, with each member bringing their unique perspective on their country of origin and the surrounding ecosystem. In the case of ABAN, Johnson noted that venture capital firms would often reach out to ABAN and its member associations for advice on how to invest in Africa, as the local angel investors understood the landscape and had done the research that these VC's needed in order to feel comfortable investing.
The GBAN Field Report is an ongoing, members-only call series on topics related to angel investing from a global perspective. Find out more at gban.co.