Are you Bankable?

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Are you Bankable?


Published Monday, 18 September 2023, 17:00 PM SAST

“If you fail to plan – you plan to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Being bankable in business, speaks to the ability to receive financing or support from a bank, financial institution, investor or financier. As entrepreneurs and small business owners, our ability to be bankable is very important. Every aspect of our business ultimately either supports or hinders our journey to bankable status. But how do we get ourselves and by extension our businesses to bankable status?


1. Statistics and Background

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries. 

According to the World Bank, SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development. They represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. 

Formal SMEs contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies. These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included. According to the World Bank they estimate, 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, which makes SME development a high priority for many governments around the world.

In emerging markets, most formal jobs are generated by SMEs, which create 7 out of 10 jobs. However, access to finance is a key constraint to SME growth, it is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries. 

SMEs are less likely to be able to obtain bank loans than large firms; instead, they rely on internal funds, or cash from friends and family, to launch and initially run their enterprises. There is a saying which states, small business owners, mostly borrow money from the 3 F’s (Friends, Family and Fools) and when things go wrong, they lose their friends, damage relationships with family and get blamed by the fools, family and friends!


The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that 65 million firms, or 40% of formal micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries, have an unmet financing need of $5.2 trillion every year, which is equivalent to 1.4 times the current level of the global MSME lending.

East Asia And Pacific accounts for the largest share (46%) of the total global finance gap and is followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (23%) and Europe and Central Asia (15%).

The gap volume varies considerably region to region. Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa regions, in particular, have the highest proportion of the finance gap compared to potential demand, measured at 87% and 88%, respectively.


About half of formal SMEs don’t have access to formal credit. The financing gap is even larger when micro and informal enterprises are taken into account and this is a reality that faces almost all SMEs globally, no matter the country they live in.

Bridging the gap is a global challenge and getting the world of angel investors to trust SMEs and Entrepreneurs, a challenge such angel investors and the World Bank, aims to address. However, this needs SMEs and Entrepreneurs to step up to the plate and to be attractive for investors. We need to find solutions …

2. Angel Investors

How to marry smart money with smart entrepreneurs?

There is a lot of smart money available globally from angel investors alone (excluding Venture Capitalist and many other sources) and according to the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF): 

“The world of entrepreneurial startups is where the most exciting and creative action is happening in today’s business world, with angel investing entering the mainstream; more than US$ 50 billion are being invested annually in the World, with a sustained growth over the past years.”


If there is smart money available, the question is, are you a smart entrepreneur who can attract such investors and how?

Let’s first dive in and understand WHO and WHAT angel investors are.
According to the World Business Angels Investment Forum, business angel investors are high net worth individuals who usually provide smaller amounts of finance (US$ 25,000 to US$ 500,000) at an earlier stage than many venture capital funds are able to invest.

They are increasingly investing alongside seed venture capital funds.

Angels usually contribute much more than pure cash – they often have industry knowledge and contacts that they pass on to entrepreneurs. Angels will often take non-executive board positions in the companies in which they invest.

The importance of business angels to the equity capital industry has grown significantly in recent years. With the recent formation and growth of angel syndicates, equity from business angels is becoming more and more important to the global equity capital industry.

Angel Investor is a private individual, mostly high net worth, usually with business experience, who directly invests part of his or her personal assets in new and growing unquoted businesses. They could invest individually or alternatively invest in syndicates where typically one angel in the syndicate takes a lead role. Besides capital, angel investors provide business management experience, skills and contacts for the entrepreneur.

Angel investors can provide “smart and patient capital”.

Angel Investors play an important role in the economy, and in many countries constitute the largest source of external funding, after family and friends, in newly established ventures. They are increasingly important in providing risk capital as well as contributing to economic growth and technological advances. Moreover, the supply of start-up and early-stage equity finance has to some extent become more dependent on angel investors, as venture capital funds are not able to accommodate a large number of small deals.


The traditional source of start-up and early-stage financing – bank lending – is limited due to risk level and handling costs.

They provide both financing and managerial experience, which increase the likelihood of start-up enterprises to survive. Given the importance of informal investors for the creation and maintenance of an entrepreneurial economy, fostering their investment could have a significant leverage effect. Increasing the awareness about their activity or about available policies and programmes in some countries or regions (best practices), could positively impact the industry, SME financing and regional development.

3. A better way to drive your business

Good planning is crucial for driving a better business. It provides a roadmap that guides your actions, helps you make informed decisions, and increases your chances of achieving your goals.

There is, however, a lot more to building a good business than just writing a business plan to raise finance.


Why good planning is important for your business and why you may consider hiring a strategic business consultant and mentor to help you plan efficiently:

  1. Clear direction: A well-developed plan clarifies your business’s purpose, goals, and objectives. It provides a clear direction and helps you stay focused on what you want to achieve. With a defined roadmap, you can prioritise your efforts and align your resources accordingly.
  2. Goal setting: Planning allows you to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. By setting clear goals, you create a sense of purpose for your team and provide them with targets to work towards. Well-defined goals motivate employees and drive their performance.
  3. Resource allocation: Planning helps you allocate your resources effectively. You can identify the necessary financial, human, and material resources required to achieve your goals. By understanding your resource needs in advance, you can budget appropriately and avoid shortages or inefficiencies.
  4. Risk management: Through planning, you can identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. By anticipating challenges and developing contingency plans, you can minimise the impact of unforeseen events on your business. Planning enables you to be proactive in managing risks and ensures business continuity.
  5. Decision-making: Planning provides a framework for making informed decisions. It allows you to analyse various options, assess their potential outcomes, and select the most suitable course of action. Planning reduces uncertainty and helps you make decisions based on data and analysis rather than guesswork.
  6. Resource optimization: With good planning, you can optimise the use of your resources. By identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks, you can streamline processes, eliminate waste, and maximise productivity. Planning allows you to identify opportunities for improvement and implement strategies to enhance efficiency.
  7. Adaptability: Planning is not only about setting a rigid course but also about being adaptable to changing circumstances. A good plan considers various scenarios and allows for flexibility. It enables you to adjust your strategies and tactics based on new information, market shifts, or unforeseen events.
  8. Communication and alignment: Planning facilitates effective communication and alignment within your organisation. When everyone understands the goals, strategies, and expectations, they can work together towards a common vision. Planning ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page and promotes collaboration and coordination.
  9. Performance measurement: A well-structured plan includes metrics and milestones that help you track progress and measure performance. It allows you to assess whether you are on track to achieve your objectives and make adjustments if necessary. Planning provides a basis for evaluating your business’s success and identifying areas for improvement.
  10. Growth and expansion: Planning is essential for driving growth and expansion. It helps you identify opportunities in the market, develop strategies to capitalise on them, and allocate resources to support growth initiatives. With a solid plan, you can scale your business effectively and seize new opportunities.

A business plan is a very important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs. A good business plan not only helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed, but it also helps them to achieve short-term and long-term objectives.

While a business plan is essential whether you are a sole proprietorship or a company, not every entrepreneur sees the need for one. Many are reluctant to have their plan written down and there are numerous articles online claiming that the business plan is dead or irrelevant.

Of course, not everyone agrees with that. A large number of business funding experts support the idea that having a good business plan is not enough.

Even excellent business ideas can be useless if you cannot formulate, execute and implement a strategic plan to make your business idea work.

If you are looking to raise funds from institutional investors and lenders, keep in mind that having a good business plan is extremely valuable. You should aim to have a well-documented plan that speaks for itself. It needs to be clear and easy to read and understand.


Before we jump into dealing with your plans, let’s first discuss Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and I encourage you to read up on Simon and his valuable teachings.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle is an alternative perspective to existing assumptions about why some leaders and organisations have achieved such a disproportionate degree of influence.

It is the proof that leaders are able to inspire action instead of manipulating people to act.

This alternative perspective is a practical tool to inspire people, explain loyalty or to create enough momentum to turn an idea into social drive.

And it all starts with WHY.

As it turns out, all the great and inspiring leaders and organisations in the world all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All SImon did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea and he calls it “the Golden Circle”.


Why? How? What?

This little idea explains why some organisations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows WHAT they do, one hundred percent.

Some know HOW they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

But very, very few people or organisations know WHY they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s the result. It’s always a result.

By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organisation exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organisations -regardless of their size, regardless of their industry- all think, act and communicate from the inside out.


Let me give you an example. Simon uses Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this:

“We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?”

Most people and organisations when communicating an idea, start from WHAT to WHY, from outside to the inside part of the Golden Circle. In fact they say WHAT they do, HOW to do it, but they usually fail to say WHY they do WHAT they do.

That’s how most marketing is done, that’s how most sales is done and that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better and we expect some sort of a behaviour, a purchase, a vote, something like that.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

Totally different right? You’re ready to buy a computer from us. All Apple did was reverse the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behaviour. When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behaviour, and then we allow people to 

rationalise it with the tangible things we say and do.

This is where gut decisions come from.


Becoming Bankable

If you’re planning to secure funding for your start-up, you need to put the right foundations in place.

Becoming bankable means you need to look at your business holistically and address a number of issues, funders would want to see from you and it starts with having a market for your business, products or services:

1. Securing a Market

Most SMEs and entrepreneurs we mentor or advise start with expressing how big the total market size is for their product or service, but, while this is important to understand, the big question is:

What percentage of that market will you attract and how?

Look at the “how’ first and work your numbers backwards. For example, if you secure a $10 million contract to supply an item that has a market size of $37 billion you are capturing only 0,03% of the market.

However, if you’re able to cover your monthly expenses (including your loan repayment) and make a profit, that’s what counts. You should be able to show this contract or letter of intent to procure, which shows how and where you will find or develop this market.

2. A Strong Team

When you’re starting out you’re likely to be the sum total of your team. If you’re going down the entrepreneurial journey alone, make sure you have identified who will mentor and guide you through the areas you don’t have competencies in and cost this into the business start-up and running costs.

Many entrepreneurs, don’t cost or factor in – strategic consultants and “wing it” from the get go. Smart entrepreneurs realise, from the get go, that they don’t know everything and can mitigate their own risk by budgeting for and appointing strategic business consultants or specialists, to help them achieve their goals.

Focus on who in the business is going to:

  • Sell and market: Do they have the necessary skill, network, product and market knowledge?
  • Control the money: Are they financially savvy and can they make sure that money is being used for the right things?
  • Operate: Who has done this before? Can this individual manufacture the product or arrange the supply of goods or services, ensure quality control and sound human resource management?

3. Compliance

Formalising your business is costly but necessary. If you don’t have a formal entity, shareholders agreements, loan agreements, financial statements, management accounts, tax compliance and so on, you will come up short when looking to raise finance.

Understand these costs upfront and include them into your start-up budget — this will save you a lot of pain in the long run. And, this where the right consultant(s), can save you a lot of money and more importantly, ensure that you do things right from the very start.

The truth is that finance is available for women who have the right business ingredients just as much (if not more — in the South African context) as it’s available for men and just as with men. And, resources such as these help to unpack and guide the core fundamentals that are needed to make business bankable/fundable.

Then it’s all about implementation and staying on track to translate all that you’ve done and all that you wish to do in a bankable business plan, and approach the relevant funder for your needs.

The right business mentor can certainly help you on that journey.

A Global Investment Firm

Fio Capital is a global investment firm, investing capital and strategic resources in entrepreneurial markets – the only sustainable solution to growing global economies.

We believe that assisting, investing in, mentoring and growing entrepreneurs is the primary way we can assist Governments in eradicating poverty and inequality for generations to come.

“We Help Entrepreneurs Grow.”

The entrepreneurial ecosystem we have developed, our efforts, services and capital continue to grow hundreds of companies, which in turn create much needed jobs, social upliftment and support for communities and economies we serve.

Our mission is to create long-term value for our stakeholders and investors through the careful stewardship of their capital.


4. World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF)

According to the World Business Angels Investment Forum, more than 90% of the early-stage investments in Europe in 2021 came from angel investor capital.

The angel investment market size is more than €10 billion in Europe and more than $26 billion in the US and Canada. The total size of the world’s early-stage investment market is expected to exceed $50 billion by 2024. The $50-billion market for angel investment promises a $150 billion exit in the next 5 to 7 years.


OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) reports show that more than 96% of the world’s economy is driven by SMEs, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Many governments have understood, or are starting to understand, the importance of the early-stage investment market in the creation of new jobs and social justice in their countries and have therefore implemented new regulations that provide tax incentives for angel investors, corporate ventures, and startups.

Who is the World Business Angels Investment Forum?

An affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) is an international organisation aiming to ease access to finance for businesses from start-up to scale-up, with the ultimate goal of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide.

It is committed to collaborating globally to empower world economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, start-ups, and SMEs.

The Forum interacts with leaders in all areas of society, first in business and political spheres, to help assess needs and establish goals, bearing in mind that the public interest is of paramount importance.

WBAF engages a wide range of institutions, both public and private, local and international, commercial and academic to help shape the global agenda of early and post-early equity and capital market.



Easing access to smart finance for entrepreneurs and angel investors


Promoting gender equality


Increasing financial inclusion


Enhancing digital inclusion

It advances its agenda at the G20 level through its affiliation with the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), chaired by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. The WBAF also hosts World Business Angel Investors Week, which is celebrated every third week of October, under a global theme.

The World Business Angels Investment Forum has an important new initiative—Diplomacy in Action for Entrepreneurs, a platform where policymakers, investors and entrepreneurs can share their ideas and interact with WBAF’s Economic Development Commissions, who prepare reports to be presented to G20 leaders.

Around 30 country presidents, prime ministers, ministers and other government dignitaries sit on the board of this initiative.

WBAF also has an angel investment fund, partnerships with global institutions, and economic cooperation agreements with governments.

WBAF accomplishes its missions through various parties and channels including:

  1. WBAF – “Financial Inclusion Center”
  2. WBAF – “Business School”
  3. WBAF – “Publication House”
  4. WBAF – “Global Startup Investment Promotion Agency (WIPA)”
  5. Country Offices on 5 continents.

The time is ripe for Africa to tap into the energy of its startups and achieve more inclusive growth.

After hosting the World Economic Forum and the FIFA World Cup semi-final, South Africa will for the 1’st time in history, host the 2023 WBAF World Congress of Angel Investors (WBAF 2023) at the Durban International Convention Center (ICC) on 20–22 November 2023.

The theme will be Mobilising Science and Technology Parks for Financial Inclusion.

The Congress is a global convergence of global leaders of early and post-early stage equity and capital markets. WBAF 2023 also includes the WBAF Financial Inclusion Congress Africa Edition.

Baybars Altuntas, World President and Executive Chairman of the World Business Angels Investment Forum, says:

‘The ultimate goal of all congress keynotes, panel discussions, presentations, and workshops will be to agree on a common roadmap for entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs that will enable them to achieve their goals’.

This is extremely good news for South Africa and Africa at large, and a valuable opportunity to showcase what we have to offer the world.



Overcoming Entrepreneurship Challenges in Africa

Of course, there are challenges that need to be overcome in order to fully realise the potential of entrepreneurship in Africa. Access to finance remains a major issue for many entrepreneurs, particularly those operating in more remote or rural areas. There is also a need for greater support and mentoring for those who are just starting out in business, as well as for more established entrepreneurs who are looking to scale up their operations. Fio Capital provides these crucial services and more.

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