Q&A: An Introduction to the Ghana Angel Investor Network

MEST | Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

The following is an interview with Leticia Browne, Investment Relations lead for the Ghana Angel Investor Network (GAIN). She oversees all aspects of deal sourcing, marketing, and business development for GAIN. In the following interview, Leticia answers common questions about GAIN, and shares insights into what GAIN looks for when making an investment decision.


1. What is GAIN, and how does GAIN support local entrepreneurs?

GAIN was designed to provide capital for early stage businesses. Prior to the launch of GAIN access to capital for startups was scarce. Through our network of investors we are able to bridge that gap.

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2. What does GAIN look for when making an investment decision? What’s the typical profile of a successfully funded team?

Angel investors are looking for opportunities to make returns, which means their objectives are similar to traditional investors. GAIN looks for interesting, early stage, scalable business models with the aim of achieving maximum returns for our investors.

We also look closely at the founding team. Without a great team, great ideas do not work, and so the team plays a huge role in assisting us with our investment decision. If you can convince us that you have a great idea, *and* that you are the team to bring it to fruition, then we are off to a good start.

Finally, passion is essential. Entrepreneurship is tough, raising funding is tougher, and raising funds in Africa is even harder. We look for people who are willing and able to go the journey with us.

[Tweet “The 3 things @GainGh looks for when making an investment decision: business model, A-team, passion.”]

3. How should entrepreneurs go about approaching GAIN for investment? Are there pitches, or some other evaluation process?

Our application process is now online. We have partnered with Gust – an online platform that facilitates angel investments. We believe this is the best way for us to drive our organization forward and allow us to expand our network of investors within Ghana and across the globe.

4. Does GAIN invest in technology companies?

GAIN has made its first investment in a technology company, Revo Technology Solutions. That said, we aren’t sector specific – GAIN investors will evaluate proven teams from a broad range of industries.

5. Are there specific industries that GAIN members are especially bullish about?

GAIN members are particular excited about Healthcare and Education.

6. What’re the top challenges facing the entrepreneurs across your portfolio companies?

Access to capital still remains a challenge for entrepreneurs at all stages of business. We need continued support to develop our network both in size and expertise.

Talent also continues to be a challenge for companies across the board. I feel that here in Ghana, however, the talent gap is a particular challenge for startups. Startups in Ghana stand little chance of attracting the best and the brightest because the lack of capital makes it difficult to compete with salaries that are offered by larger organisations.

Our educational system also grooms graduates to aspire to work for large organisations that can offer stability. I have often told the story of my own personal experience of leaving a multinational to join GAIN. I didn’t tell my family. My father found out because he saw me on the TV talking about my new role!

I didn’t tell him because I knew he would discourage me. Like many others, he comes from a generation where it was common to only have one or two employers for your entire career. As an employee, job security and a good pension plan were your only priorities. This mindset continues into modern generations. It is a very real issue in our culture.

7. What’re some local opportunities that are overlooked? What sorts of businesses does GAIN wish more people were exploring?

I would like to see more entrepreneurs (tech entrepreneurs in particular) working toward developing our education system. While it’s still very early days, we are planning some programs to support entrepreneurs in this space. There is still so much room for improvement here.

8. What’s the single biggest mistake you see founders make?

I think its common for founding teams to loose focus post investment. When their dreams suddenly become real, I think the pressure can sometimes cause a lack of focus during a period when founders need to be more focused than ever before.

9. What can be done to deepen Ghana’s investment network?

The single most impactful thing we can do to deepen Ghana’s investment network is to improve the access and quality of information.

We often hear from our network that they feel most comfortable investing in businesses that they understand. We believe this also relates to investment opportunities. As we continue to expand our network, we plan to conduct more awareness programs that will provide potential investors with the information they require to participate in angel investing. We want to demystify this asset class and make it accessible to everyone with the disposable income to invest.

[Tweet “”For Ghana’s investment network to develop, we need to improve quality of information.” – @GainGh”]

10. For the talented tech entrepreneurs reading this interview who’re looking for pain points to solve: what’re some personal or professional pain points that GAIN members wish someone would solve for them?

I will speak for myself here as a “returnee” to Ghana: I have often struggled to find dependable services, products, or craftsmen. I think there is obvious room for improvement in terms of directories.

11. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Angel investor networks cannot exist in a vacuum. We need to continue to work together to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystems that allow us to support sustainable businesses.

There is currently room for development in all areas: education and training, support services, finance, policy, infrastructure, and most of all, our business culture.

We as a people need to reach for higher heights, we need to stop accepting average and aim for the best. Entrepreneurs should be constantly looking for opportunities to develop and innovate, so if we continue to accept the norm, how do we build businesses that bring about change and one day become global brands? We must demand excellence from each other.