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At the inaugural Western Cape Funding Fair yesterday, 34 startups were chosen out of 600 applicants to pitch for a minimum of R10-million in funding. Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities opened the event at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa.
“I have a vision of a different ecosystem for entrepreneurs in this province,” he said. “And this is the platform where everything starts to change, and money starts to flow to the entrepreneurs. It is initiatives like these, and the good stories that will come out of them, that make us the place where people want to do business, and can do so easily.”
With a mission to put funders and startups in the same room, entrepreneurs and innovators were invited to pitch their ideas which needed to be funded. While the Funding Fair initiative have been going on for the past three years, this is the first event in the Western Cape.
In an interview with Ventureburn, Andre Pottas — a financial partner of Deloitte — said that he’s very impressed by the high caliber of startups in the Western Cape.
“There’s been a wide spread of industries which shows real depth and maturity in the Western Cape economy,” Pottas explained. “On the funders’ side, we find it a lot easier to get support. I think there’s a lot more support and incubators than what we see elsewhere in the country.”
“We had three main criteria,” said Marius Alberts, Deloitte Western Cape regional leader. “The new enterprises had to be based in the Western Cape, create a significant number of jobs to contribute to the economy of the Western Cape, and require at least R10-million in funding.”
Pottas points out that four of the 40 chosen startups have already managed to secure funding between the date they applied and the day they had to pitch, highlighting talent and an active local VC scene. The other two decided they’re not looking for funding.
Minister Winde also called on banks in South Africa to take more risks when it comes to entrepreneurs. “Our banks were praised for their low risk rating when the global recession hit,” he said. “But if we want to change the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in this country, they are going to have to be open to more risky ventures.
With 20 in total, the Western Cape Funding Fair funders range from banks to venture capitalists. The KwaZulu-Natal Funding Fair raised about R386-million. For the Western Cape round, Pottas is hoping to raise around R500-million.
While we would have loved to reveal which startups got funded, the process will likely go on for the next few months. Half way through the pitching day, though, Pottas said that most of the startups and funders have already committed to follow-up meetings.