For social entrepreneurs who struggle in financing their ventures, they could only wish that there be a guardian angel guiding them in their every step. But why seek refuge in a fictional character when you can find angels among us?
Angel investors are people who invest in entrepreneurs who want to take the first step for their ventures. Their investment may be just one-time or it can be an on-going support to carry the company on it’s challenging stage. They focus mainly on helping the enterprise get started rather than profit from it.
In Indonesia, a company named Angel Investment Network Indonesia (ANGIN), has taken the initiative to be the “bridge” to Angel investors and entrepreneurs. This idea sprang from the observation that there is a disconnect between the booming pool of Angel investors and struggling entrepreneurs. There was a need for a sole network to pull them together.
With over 70 angel investors and 33 led deals, ANGIN has come a long way, impacting the lives of both the investors and entrepreneurs. Diinsder caught up with ANGIN’s Director, David Soukhasing, who has been leading the company since 2015.
Diinsider: How did ANGIN start and where is it right now?
David: When I first joined ANGIN, it was initiated as a small women’s fund. We started with fifteen angel investors and just five social enterprises with no website, no team, no office, basically nothing. Seeing the potential, I worked hard, recruited amazing team members, and now ANGIN has leaped a long distance. We now have 70 angel investors and we have worked with 33 social enterprises.
But the most important thing is that ANGIN was not just an Angel Network. Now, we are becoming a platform where different stakeholders take part; the government, international NGOs, social finance institutes, and a lot more partnerships. Right now, it has become a proper company, a proper platform.
Diinsider: That is amazing work indeed. Is ANGIN only for Indonesian investors and entrepreneurs?
David: For the Angel investors, we work with people who understand Indonesian. It could be an Indonesian or it could be a foreigner who lived here before. We look for an investor who has passion for and commitment to Indonesia. We want someone who understands the culture here that when they go to the grassroots, they need to speak the language very well. For the enterprises, we work closely with the grassroots in Indonesia.
Diinsider: How do entrepreneurs find you?
David: I would say 50% is through scouting. We search for projects so we go around. We organize many events and conduct many workshops. We also get inquires and applications from our website. Another way is through referrals from friends.
Diinsider: How do you decide which projects you want to work with and connect with your angel investors?
David: We look at potential clients’ profiles and we deliberate if we will pair them with our Angel investors. We usually look for projects that impact people below the poverty line. When we set the key performance indicators (KPIs), what we need to track and what information the company needs to give us, we usually included some impact-related KPIs like, how many farmers they work with? What are the income for this year for the farmers? How many of the farmers’ kids go to school?
With due diligence, we work on assessing the impacts and tracking the theory of change. We basically apply the same methodology of an impact investor. If the impact is not there, then there’s not going to be any investment.
Diinsider: You sure have a tedious process for your operation. Do you also face some challenges?
David: The main challenge of an organization like us is sustainability and monetization. Corporate institutions and governments do not usually sponsor our type of organization so we do our best to be independent.
Another challenge is that because we are a bridge, and we work with many organizations, sometimes it gets complicated with managing our time. We have large and varying stakeholders which means we have to meet and discuss with many people at different places and at different times. Our work requires a lot of flexibility.
Another challenge we have is because Angel investment is not that popular, it is also not well understood yet. We constantly explain it to those who do not get how it works.
Diinsider: Overall, what is your goal for ANGIN in the future?
David: Our main goal is to help as many entrepreneurs and guide them to track the right metrics so they can impact especially those who are at the bottom of the pyramid population. We also hope that our network of Angel investors would expand as Angel investment is essential in Indonesia as there are a lot of potential impact investments in this country.