Mobilizing money from Wealthy Families in Peru & Latin America And Why Family money is Not Angel money—Day #3 in Lima, Peru

By Thomas D. Nastas

Feb 26, 2014 10:18 PM EST

Entrepreneurs' most frequent complaint is how challenging it is to raise money, especially risk capital; founders in developing countries have even more difficulty since the amounts of venture money for investment in most emerging markets is less vs. the USA.

Yet with the trillions invested in food & beverage, fast moving consumer goods, retailing, wholesaling and construction to name just a few in the developing world, why does so little of this money flow to tech enterprises-from Peru to Paraguay to the Philippines, Beirut to Buenos Aires to Bangalore-or from Moscow to Manila to Mexico City?

One reason is the mismatch between risks sold enthusiastically by entrepreneurs & risks willingly purchased by investors. Investors are as frustrated as you are-having the means to invest for impact, but not presented with the right venture capital, investment & tech business model solutions required to open their pocketbooks.

On day #3 in Lima, I met with five of the wealthiest families in Peru-discuss solutions, business models and financial instruments for investment in technology, 1st time entrepreneurs and early stage SMEs. The business interests of these families range from construction to real estate, insurance, banking and financial services, consumer segments from food to clothing to entertainment, mining/minerals and agriculture- mainstream sectors of economic growth in Peru, and sectors which are heavy users of technology.

Much to my surprise, each family had made small investments in tech startups and learned that angel investing is not for them. It's not that the investments went bad (some did, others performed well), it's that they are not organized nor structured to invest and manage angel investments. I've found this to be true of family wealth in other countries too, Russia, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, S. Africa, Kenya and Tanzania as well.

A better instrument for domestic capital is investment in structures like funds-committing capital in bigger chunks, divorced from making individual investment decisions and the management of a portfolio of young companies. They want and seek to be 'active' investing sponsors by opening their networks and contacts to drive the revenues of investees forward. Yet in some countries and legal regimes, such direct involvement violates the principles of limited liability in LLPs, and puts families at risk greater than just the capital invested in a fund.

It's critical that the fund invests in markets which wealthy families know, understand & where they can add value-how to enter an industry, secure a beachhead and execute, recruit 'friends' to help open doors, when to zig & when to zag as examples. It's not technology which frightens domestic wealth so much as it is markets targeted for new innovation and customers' willingness to adopt untested solutions. Fund managers must finance {and entrepreneurs must create} business models/tech products for industries where local wealth made their billions, sectors like agriculture, fishing and farming, retailing, wholesaling, mining/minerals, construction, banking & insurance as examples- industries which they have deep understanding of to help achieve positive investment outcomes.

So for example, look closely at industries which are at the core of economic growth in L. America, sectors in need of solutions to drive prosperity, job and wealth creation forward. A Columbian startup took such an approach to successfully raise money.

This start-up inserts RFID chips into cows. The chip sends signals to a receiver on the neck of a bull with a 'damaged' penis. The bull chases the cows, but can't copulate. Columbian ranchers can now easily identify cows in heat for insemination. This start-up is now deploying its solution to the large # of ranches & haciendas in Latin America.

If wealthy families are not angel investors in L. America, who are? Besides the normal targets including other entrepreneurs, incubators and accelerators for example, I have two specific suggestions for you:

1. Seek capital from general partners and senior managers of private equity (PE) funds investing in your country, not money from the funds they work for.

I met with such guys from international, regional and country-specific funds with offices in Lima, Bogota, Buenos Aires and San Paulo. These general partners have the personal cash and net worth to invest as angels or in angel syndicates. They possess the skills and experiences to make such investments and manage a small portfolio + access co-investment networks. Some of these angel investments will 'grow up' to be investment opportunities for their PE fund.

Yet when I asked these PE managers how many seed investments they made in entrepreneurs, their answer was none-because entrepreneurs had not approached them & entrepreneurial support organizations like accelerators and incubators had not engaged them!

2. Corporations-and I don't mean attempting to convince corporates to create internal venture funds as multinationals like Intel, Siemens, Shell, etc., have done.

Instead create business models which support the industry restructuring efforts of domestic corporates. Let me give you an example.

Peruvian insurance companies are purchasing hospitals and clinics-a counter intuitive strategic initiative to their core business. Yet these insurers are doing so to improve the delivery and quality of health care services to citizens in Peru-a logical and rational strategy to reduce health care claims-thereby increasing profits of insurers. Certainly much of the innovation implemented to accomplish this objective will be foreign tech purchased from giants like General Electric, Siemens and Philips as examples. But plenty of room exists for Peruvian entrepreneurs to clone & localize health care business models from the West & the East + innovate new solutions for the genetic specifics of Peruvian citizens.

Plenty of domestic $$ exists to finance all the innovation and entrepreneurs in all developing markets. Domestic wealth has more intense personal interests vs. other sources of capital in alleviating poverty, creating jobs/new wealth in the local economy. And families make investment decisions faster vs. alternative sources of money.

Yet they are as frustrated as you are-having the means to invest for impact, but not presented with the right VC, investment & tech business model solutions required to open their pocketbooks-solutions which matches their behavior to risk.

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