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Every start-up business needs its angel

29 September 2015 / 10:09:09  GRReporter
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The European Business Angels Network was established at the initiative of the European Commission in 1999. It brings together the whole region, but has ambitions to do so outside Europe, for example in Africa where a large number of networks at the local or state level are its members. The Bulgarian Association of Business Angels became its full member this June and we organized the first official event of the organization on 2 September. The organization will express the voice of this society in Bulgaria. We are recruiting members at present and will then announce an event for entrepreneurs, which is scheduled for early December. We have set very high goals as an organization, the main ones being to bring the best practices that have occurred in Europe and overseas, as the US is the home to business angels where the development of this activity is the best. Europe is making very serious efforts to catch up. The activity of business angels coincides with the objectives of EU President Jean-Claude Juncker for large investments in innovative new companies in the next programming period. Our membership will allow us to use the practices that they have developed and tested over time, and to skip a stage in which time is lost to us, to apply this know-how by combining it with the specifics of the enterprise and the investment environment in Bulgaria. This will give a very significant boost to the economy because now the trend is towards new technology companies. Our association is not limited in this segment. In this connection, I will return to the event that we have planned for the end of the year. Our idea is to invite a delegation of foreign business angels from our partner network, who are willing to invest in specific business projects. Our desire is to give impetus at the local level and to show the Bulgarian business angels how one such process actually takes place, provide them with the opportunity to collaborate with business angels who have experience in Europe. For them, the entire process will be very useful because they will have the opportunity to observe in real terms how the processes develop in this type of investment. Our goal is to develop a community of Bulgarian business angels and we will enable our members to cooperate with all those who are in Europe. Our local entrepreneurial ecosystem will be able to apply for projects in Europe. Each member who is in our organization as a business angel has different preferences for different entrepreneurial projects, so we want to give them access to the entire European network, not only to the Bulgarian one, which means access to all projects available for investment. However, our focus is on helping the Bulgarian community and we will help both local business angels to make joint investments with their European counterparts and entrepreneurs to seek funding in more places.

If you were to compare the business climate in Bulgaria and Greece, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the two countries? Are there Greek business angels to invest in Bulgaria?

Bulgaria was the last to become a member of the European Business Angels Network. The network was presented in Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, with the exception of Bulgaria. Our association believes that the business environment in Bulgaria has significant potential and we believe it can achieve successes. In terms of support from the government and various institutions, unfortunately, there are no developed initiatives for this kind of investment because of the lack of organization at the local level.

In Greece, the following problems are observed: when the first organizations of business angels were created, it turned out that the Greek investors would like to invest alone, without being united in syndicates, in order to make the most of the investments. But it is very risky from the standpoint that when you put all your eggs in one basket, there is a significant risk of breaking them all. This initial process continued for about two years there. Currently the situation has changed. They have understood that the principle of unity between business angels and separation of investment is a much better option that allocates the risk in this type of activity.

Everyone has a different way of development. We hope to avoid some mistakes by learning from foreign experience, from the countries in the region. There is a lot to be desired in terms of tax and investment incentives. In this regard, we have an initiative by which to try to consolidate those Bulgarians who are living outside Bulgaria, to give them access to information about what is happening in Bulgaria at the business level and about the investment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We will try to bring back not only the money that Bulgarians return to help friends and relatives, but also investments that have a much greater effect on the economy. Perhaps this will be the first area in which we will try to seek partnership with the government, to secure incentives for this type of investment from outside. This would accelerate the process, as many successful and skilled Bulgarians are living and working outside Bulgaria and, on the other hand, Bulgaria has many interesting projects in which our compatriots from abroad could invest. Our idea is to cover every point in the world.

Tags: Business angelVenture capitalEntrepreneurAssociationProjectsEuropean Business Angels Network
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