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thomas-duebendorfer

SA’s slowing economy, political volatility no concern for Swiss angel investors

South Africa’s current political volatility and the slowing economy is no concern for a group of six Swiss angel investors who have contributed to the €150 000 that 10 startups this year have been able to tap through Startupbootcamp Cape Town.

Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC) Thomas Duebendorfer and five other investors from the investor club have committed to fund three years of Startupbootcamp Cape Town and invest in 10 early-stage tech startups per year that do business in Africa.

For Duebendorfer South Africa is still an attractive investment destination.

“Only if it were to affect how foreign investors are treated or regulated in South Africa or if a conflict among citizens or government would destabilise the country and make it dysfunctional (would I be concerned),” he said today, responding to emailed questions from Ventureburn.

“I currently don’t think this is the case for South Africa any time soon. Different regions have different problems… but I’ve met a lot of local people with a very positive attitude towards the future despite setbacks (at) the political level and the economic slowdown,” he said.

And the slowing economy? “An economic slowdown is actually a great chance for startups, not primarily a threat,” he reckons.

Only if it were to affect how foreign investors are treated or regulated in South Africa would we be concerned says Swiss angel investors head

“I think South Africa has great potential for startups and connecting them to experienced smart money investors in Switzerland is mutually beneficial,” he adds.

While he said he couldn’t immediately reveal the amount that he and his fellow investors had invested in the 10 startups, as he is under a non-disclosure agreement, Startupbootcamp announced earlier this year that each participant in the programme would receive €15 000 in return for an eight percent equity stake.

Duebendorfer added that the six are part of a number of investors that are not only investing in the 10 startups, but also covering the running costs of the programme.

The Swiss investors were part of the pre-selection committee and he was at the final startup selection days in Cape Town to select the final 10 that the investors would invest in.

Duebendorfer, who stays near Pfäffikon, about half an hour outside the Swiss commercial capital Zurich, says it all began when he took a recent family trip to South Africa.

“I know some Swiss entrepreneurs and startup ecosystem people that currently live in South Africa. When I visited them they hooked me up with some successful startuppers in Cape Town, which connected me to accelerators and incubators in Cape Town and finally to the person that was about to launch the Startupbootcamp in Africa,” he says.

“I already know the Startupbootcamp programme from a person running it in Europe and I had a strong network to investors in Switzerland thanks to my angel club Swiss ICT Investor Club (which has over 150 investors as members),” he adds.

And what does he look for when investing in SA startups?

“The same as what I look for in startups anywhere: Great talented and passionate founders and a business model that can scale and (one that) meets a large market,” says Duebendorfer.

Featured image: Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC) Thomas Duebendorfer (Supplied)