Opening the door to the world’s most promising SMEs - CNBC Africa

Opening the door to the world’s most promising SMEs

Special Report

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Emerging Crowd allows investors to access growth-stage companies, says Lucien Moolenaar. PHOTO: Buzz South Africa

A new investment platform is bringing visibility to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in some of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Emerging Crowd, which was founded by Lucien Moolenaar and Will Tindall, aims to directly connect investors to unique opportunities in growing businesses in select frontier and emerging markets.

According to the founders, many small and medium-sized businesses around the world find themselves in a ‘funding gap’ where the banks and private equity firms have failed to provide financing for growth, and the businesses are not yet sufficiently scaled to list on a major stock exchange.

(READ MORE: Will S.Africa see the birth of a second stock exchange?)

“Our aim is to build an online community of investors who are passionate about the exceptional growth opportunities available in frontier and emerging markets,” said Tindall.

The first company to list on the platform is Neo, an established chain of coffee shops in Nigeria.

It was founded in 2012 by two brothers, Ngozi and Chijioke Dozie, and is already the largest chain of coffee shops in West Africa.

“A company like Neo not only has huge potential, but also an impressive operational track record and leadership from two brothers with superb experience and Wharton and Harvard MBAs between them,” Tindall added.

“Until now the vast majority of investors have had no way to reach these types of companies, let alone consider buying a stake in them.”

To ensure companies meet Emerging Crowd’s investor protection standards, all businesses appearing on the platform will be subjected to forensic legal and commercial due diligence.

The minimum investment in any opportunity is expected to be 500 pounds, and investors will pay no fees to the platform.

Moolenaar said, “We think there will be great demand from investors for these types of businesses. Frontier and emerging markets can offer investors significant growth and income as part of a diversified investment portfolio.”

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“Emerging Crowd allows investors to access these growth-stage companies, monitor their investments, and see the impact they are having in these rapidly developing economies,” he added.

The platform allows ordinary investors to buy both shares and bonds issued by businesses operating in these select markets.

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