LAN launches Sri Lanka’s first Angel Fund to invest in local startups countrywide

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 03:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Lankan Angel Network (LAN) has launched Sri Lanka’s first Angel Fund, established with the support of ecosystem development partner Ford Foundation, to catalyse the growth of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem. 

A first of its kind in Sri Lanka, this Fund will be LAN’s flagship initiative moving forward, and is based on Rs. 100 million in investments from 100 individuals investing Rs. 1 million each. 

The Fund will be managed by LAN’s fund management team, which will identify and evaluate opportunities for investment across the island, including in traditionally underserved regions. 

Importantly, it is dedicated to investing in, and mentoring and supporting, early-stage startups across multiple sectors; from making investments at the pre-revenue stage, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding. 

An ancillary goal of the Fund is to provide wider visibility into the deal flow, as well as curating the pipeline, so founders and startups enter the ecosystem better prepared, especially in terms of being more knowledgeable about the extensive funding and networking opportunities already available to them, both here and abroad.

LAN CEO Chalinda Abeykoon said: “Startups have begun emerging from every corner of the island. Yet, while the number of startups has grown, access to capital is still restricted by its scarcity, exclusivity and high cost. This hinders growth and will eventually cause a higher than average incidence of startup failure. The Angel Fund hopes to disrupt these challenges by democratising the fundraising process and giving our startups a leg up so they can better succeed.”

Highlighting the growing confidence in the emerging local startup ecosystem, the Angel Fund features significant representation from Sri Lankans expatriates in Singapore, UK, Canada and USA, comprising 15-20% of the Fund, having seen interest from other markets such as Australia and New Zealand as well. In the future, the Fund plans to leverage these international networks to an even greater extent, to build bridges to overseas markets for startups to scale their products. 

Additionally, LAN Board members and Patrons have also been an integral part of this funding drive, with a number of local and overseas investors having been personally invited by them. Many LAN Board Members and Patrons have also personally invested in the Fund.

“Today, most startups lack Smart Money (Wealth and Knowledge). The Angel Fund, which is exclusively made up of 100 high net worth smart investors, aims to fill this void by helping small and medium sized enterprises/startups to accelerate growth. Through this Fund, startups can now have access to the investor’s sector knowledge and contacts, have better discipline due to outside scrutiny and access to BA mentoring/management skills. The 100 high net worth investors will be a great resource pool. This is a very important milestone for the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sri Lanka and hope we have set the benchmark for others to follow,” said LAN Patron and Expolanka Holdings Chief Executive Officer Hanif Yousuf.

LAN Chairman Mano Sekaram added: “These 100 individual angel investors represent the greatest minds Sri Lanka has produced. Their passion and commitment have fuelled the Sri Lankan economy for decades. The Angel Fund strives to connect these luminaries with the next generation of entrepreneurs. This is an initiative that will not only channel funding but also focus on delivering values, ethics and prosperity.”

The launch of the Fund was anchored by presentations and a panel discussion on what to expect from the Angel Fund, wherein investors were briefed about important details pertaining to the Fund and its structure. 

Speakers included CIMB Sri Lanka former CEO Anarkali Moonesinghe, BOV Capital Managing Partner Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Lankan Angel Network CEO Chalinda Abeykoon, Nithya Partners Precedent Partner Dr. Arittha Wikramanayake and PwC Sri Lanka Director – Capital Project and Infrastructure and Deals Strategy Ruvini Fernando. 

Nithya Partners and PwC Sri Lanka are long-time LAN partners that have contributed their respective Legal and Information Memorandum (IM) expertise to the Fund. 

Panel moderator and LAN Board Member Anarkali Moonesinghe commented: “The Angel Fund is important in terms of providing investors a pipeline of high-quality opportunities but also access for entrepreneurs to an amazing network of individuals who can be mentors and supporters beyond just the money.”