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The US Chamber of Commerce have lamented the fact that American investors were losing out opportunities in emerging markets during a time when the recession was killing profits seemingly everywhere.
Part of the fear is a lack of stability and concern over just how safe it is to put money in areas where returns have been massive.
If your country’s investment profile doesn’t seem that great, it may not be so much your business, but the perception of your nation’s institutions that create uncertainty. The Index of Economic Freedom shows that an open market, fair rules and a sound banking environment all matter for attracting investment. For those in emerging markets, the bigger picture could be more favourable.
While you may not be gearing to reform the economic climate in your country, you can change your own attractiveness as a startup investment.
One way you can get over national hurdles is by taking some pro-active steps to show your business is sound to investors abroad.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce.
Foreign investors have tied with a number around the world. Here you can get advice, attract interested investors and build relationships with those who are willing to vouch for you. Investors in a chamber of commerce are often slower and more conservative than those actively playing in the web space. Nonetheless, their willingness to stand by your character or ability is tangibly useful.
Serve as a signatory to an important document or declaration.
If an organisation or initiative in your region or country is credible and important, support it. It expands your network and shows your connectedness to what is going on in the world around you.
Contribute to the news-making – positively.
Offer comments on important events and speak to journalists wherever you are. If you are at a conference and a media representative is there, strike up a conversation. Journalists are always looking for comments from participants and attendees at important events. Your network with media is as crucial as your networking efforts with prospective clients and investors. It all helps your Google rankings.
Set up a US office.
It’s not as expensive as you think, you don’t even have to be there. If you have a US contact, bring them on board as an associate or at least request to have them assist you in providing valuable information to potential investors. Having a point of contact in the US is not costly. Harvard Business Services for example facilitates setting up a company in the US around US$90, while offering a call service for startups at the same price for each subsequent year you are operating. That means when your US office gets a call, an American-based customer assistant takes a message or answers a few essential questions on your behalf, while forwarding you the relevant information from that call that allows you to follow up with overseas clients.
Emerging markets can’t discount the value of a presence in the world’s strongest economy that has driven innovation to the benefit of the world.
Get initial investors to vouch for you.
If you are raising a second round of funding or simply looking for your first, show you have the support of a first investor or anyone who has put any risk into your company. For example, a supplier who has chosen to provide a service on the expectation they will be paid six months down the line shows considerable belief in your startup’s success. It may not be a lot, but counts for something.