Date founded: October 2020
Number of members: 6 paid members (15 accepted)
Number of investments: 0
Number of deals assessed: 11
In late 2019, GreenTec Capital Africa Foundation, ABAN and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) embarked on a series of ecosystem-building activities, designed “to help investors learn more about investing in Namibia and to reinforce the critical role that angel investors play in the early-stage ecosystem”. These activities were part of a wider GIZ project that initiated the Startup Namibia hub, which aims to run a number of incubation programmes to support 650 Namibian startups over a 3-year period, while determining a sustainable model to continue its work.
During one of these investor-focussed events, hosted by Startup Namibia and GreenTec, Jesaya Hano-Oshike indicated his interest in being involved in the establishment of a local angel group. He was invited by the organisers to become a founding member. GreenTech created a WhatsApp channel for the interested group, and they were offered training from GreenTech’s Chief Investment Officer and ABAN President, Tomi Davies. Although there were a number of people in the WhatsApp group, the momentum slowed down after this initial training and engagement, and Jesaya then took it upon himself to keep driving discussions.
When the African Angel Academy was announced, the WhatsApp group was invited. Jesaya Hano-Oshike, Josephat Mwatotele, Kirstin Wiedow and Leonard Hamunyela signed up for the programme, but there was little interest among other members to participate. “I think the biggest challenge in setting up a group is retaining members despite initial interest,” says Jesaya. Kirsten, Josephat and Jesaya are now the key operational drivers of NABAN.
Jesaya is an investment professional with experience in bank treasury management, private equity, venture capital and investment advisory. He was also recently appointed as Head of Business Development for Start-up Namibia. Kirsten Wiedow is General Manager at Startup Namibia, and has years of experience working with startup programmes and projects. Josephat is a business strategist with a keen interest and experience in investment management, private equity and entrepreneurship. He currently runs a venture capital fund.
About the Group
NABAN was founded through the GreenTech Capital and GIZ project, which is a different founding story to most other groups – which are often founded through individual discussions and motivations. The launch of the group was driven through the project, but it has taken some time to formalise the structure and find the right team and initial members to get the group going. “We got quite stuck on structure: we thought about a Section 21 (non-profit), but thought let’s not go too deep because of the various regulatory requirements. Eventually, we decided to go for an investment club,” says Jesaya. “Then we quickly wrote the constitution, opened a bank account and made a website.”
The group now has 15 member applications which have been accepted, and six have paid their annual dues (N$2 500) as of March 2021. The group is leveraging their personal LinkedIn network, as well as word of mouth via existing members, to find potential new members.
NABAN has decided to remain sector-agnostic, and allow members to select investments based on their interests and expertise. A minimum contribution of N$25 000 is required to participate in a round.
Deal-flow and Management
NABAN has a partnership with Startup Namibia, which is its primary deal-sourcing channel. One of Startup Namibia’s core incubation programmes selects 10 startups to receive EUR 5000 seed funding. These businesses are then evaluated by NABAN for further investment – there were a couple of interesting businesses in the very first cohort, says Jesaya. “Some of these businesses are now receiving investor-readiness training, further developing their skills,” says Jesaya, elaborating on the usefulness of the local accelerator programme. “While there are two or three businesses that looked interesting in the initial pitches, I want them to go through the accelerator programme before taking things further.”
Over fifty percent of the startups through Startup Namibia are women-led, and the programme has partnered with Africa-founded global network Future Females to source these businesses.
The Startup Namibia programme offers a strong pipeline, having had more than 200 businesses through their system so far. Partnerships with the MEST (Ghana) and Launch Lab (South Africa) accelerators have helped Startup Namibia rapidly capacitate to support startups. Startup Namibia has also been able to support NABAN with templates for shareholder agreements, convertible notes and the like that the angels can use.
By the time the selected startups have been through the Startup Namibia process, NABAN feels confident in assessing some of the businesses for due diligence. It so happened the first business they assessed had a deal room ready, although the valuation process turned out to be challenging as the two parties grappled with different approaches to the methods. This particular business was quite well established – maybe more so than a typical angel investment – but not yet profit-generating, which means they have been constrained in finance-raising in a context where there are not yet many angel investors.
With his and Joseph’s VC and investment analyst backgrounds, Jesaya admits that they need to work on their risk appetite for earlier-stage investments: something that will stand them in good stead as they go deeper into the Namibian pipeline. NABAN is also starting to receive incoming enquiries from startups – so far, they’ve had about a dozen meetings with startups outside of the Startup Namibia programme.
While NABAN’s first attempt at a deal has fallen through (in the end, the parties could not agree on a valuation), the growing ecosystem in Namibia looks promising for their pipeline.
How African Angel Academy helped
The timing of AAA was right for NABAN as the initiative had stagnated and they needed some support in organising the group: “The course was good, the content was good and I learned a lot,” says Jesaya. “It gave me the motivation to go back to those who had said they were interested in creating a group and just get started.”
The mentorship sessions with Abu Cassim from Jozi Angels were particularly useful to the group, especially in helping them manage expectations of how NABAN might develop and grow. Abu offered a lot of advice in terms of structuring the website and getting new members to commit. From Abu’s perspective, he identified a big challenge with regards to the capacity of members, and the size and maturity of the ecosystem.
“Any marketplace is a chicken and egg scenario. The group needs to build both sides of the marketplace to have an impact,” explains Abu. “Their biggest challenge is going to be the size of their ecosystem, but we have seen markets like Estonia punch above their weight in the global context.”
Over the course of the mentorship the group decided on a structure, defined a three-month roadmap for the group, and hosted an event. Jozi Angels is now cited as a key partner on the NABAN website.
Even though Jesaya and Josephat do have prior investment experience, the knowledge gained through the programme has helped them in the process of assessing their first deal with NABAN. “Although we had the experience we still had to figure out how it would work for angel investing,” explains Jesaya.
NABAN has also considered co-investment with other groups that emerged during their AAA cohort, but are waiting to find their feet. “As we’ve started, we’ve realised let’s first get our house in order with members and maybe complete one or two investments,” says Jesaya, adding that branching out with syndicates is definitely a consideration in the future.