Netherlands

In-depth interview with CAIA’s founder

We will be the leading destination for venture investment, in thirty years from now!   

In 2004, Akiules started scrutinising his student budget and discovered by surprise that he could live in the future if he would pay off recurring monthly payments immediately, such as TV, Internet and phone bills. In doing so, he endeavoured to commit his direct income for ensuing investments. His ability to turn risks and challenges into local opportunities and innovative solutions, gave him the recognition of being one of the most promising young Angolans in the book Angola’s Golden Generation. In January 2021, he established together with an ambitious team of thirteen young men and two women a foundation called Clube Angolano de Investidores Anjo (CAIA). The aim? Helping the incubates of Orange Corners Angola to succeed in sowing the seeds of their own start-up. We asked Akiules more about CAIA’s launch, achievements and future objectives.

  1. What does CAIA stand for? What do angel investors aspire to enhance in a healthy ecosystem?

We began informally a couple of years ago as Angola Angel Network. I congregated a small group of six high-net-worth individuals, all under the age of 35. Every three months, we would listen carefully to the pitches of young professionals in Angola and thus get to know their innovative business ideas.

I believe CAIA stands for opportunity. We seek to provide solutions and offer opportunities for young Angolan doers and listen to their story, as that is one of the primary ways humans grow and learn. It is all about the people, eventually. 

An angel investor network like CAIA aims to rebalance the asymmetric market in Angola by investing in high-risk companies that traditional banks, in the first place, would not accept. We do more than facilitating access to finance. More importantly, we give young entrepreneurs a voice and the courage to further develop their potential business ideas. 

I believe CAIA stands for opportunity. We seek to provide solutions and offer opportunities for young Angolan doers and listen to their story, as that is one of the primary ways humans grow and learn. It is all about the people, eventually. 

2. The relationship between an angel investor and a start-up is a precious one. How do you pick your Angel Network? 

We have simple criteria. We listen to the people and their motivation; we try to understand and enhance their capacities to undertake action. We always keep in the back of our mind if there is an available market for their business ideas. Would we like to be a client of the product or services they offer? Would I potentially be willing to subscribe tomorrow? Secondly, we ask if the product or service is investable. Hence if there is room for improvement, growth, and immediate or future impact. The fact that an aspiring entrepreneur has sold its product, shows that his or her business is worthy for early investment and capable of sustaining in the future. After having improved their business pitches and being mentored during the Orange Corners programmes, CAIA enables early investments before banks make series A and series B investment.

One successful example of such an investment was a socks subscription-based business; it rose from 8000 to 70.000 euros in less than two years. CAIA hopes to invest more in these kinds of prosperous businesses!

3. What have you been able to achieve together with Orange Corners, RVO Netherlands and the Dutch Embassy in Angola? 

Orange Corners is a springboard for encouraging local investment in small businesses and for increasing the quality of sustainable start-ups. Based on their selection and scouting, CAIA starts the second conversation with the entrepreneurs. We ask about the organisation of their start-ups and their business models, to understand and elucidate if they can be profitable and improve youth employment in the local economy.

Until now, the cooperation between Orange Corners and CAIA is going well, although it is recent. I remember when Theodore, who launched Orange Corners in 2016, came to Angola to expand their programmes. We regained contact after having studied together in Delft, and I explained to him my way of selecting an angel network. I try to have my both feet on the ground and ask direct questions to potential entrepreneurs and the investments CAIA makes. One successful example of such an investment was a socks subscription-based business; it rose from 8000 to 70.000 euros in less than two years. CAIA’s ambition is to invest more in these kind of prosperous and successful companies!

We are currently recruiting two female ambassadors from the corporate world, who will be the faces of a fund of CAIA only accessible for females. In this regard, we hope to improve access to finance for female entrepreneurs only!

4. Which actions are required to further strengthen the Angolan ecosystem

What needs to be developed in Angola in a nutshell, is local content. I believe Angola could be the number one highest-potential country in Africa. Especially in Luanda, possibilities are endless. But in order to grasp these opportunities, more local content development needs to be stimulated and supported so quality will be tremendously higher. In doing so, businesses need to be aware of sustainability and of the entrepreneurial benefits. Stimulating the practice of entrepreneurship by changing the traditional criteria of investing, would change the outlook of seemingly risky opportunities and enable them to turn into scalable and innovative businesses. 

5. What is CAIA’ s view on gender? Are you currently working to integrate your views in your activities?

There are a lot of female entrepreneurs in Angola, primarily focused on more traditional businesses and industries. Currently we have nine entrepreneurs in our portfolio, of whom three of them are women. We are currently recruiting two female ambassadors from the corporate world, who will be the faces of a fund of CAIA only accessible for females. In this regard, we hope to improve access to finance for female entrepreneurs only!

6.   What does CAIA aspire to achieve in the coming five years, for example for Angel Investment and for the Angolan ecosystem? 

CAIA hopes to see that OC will attract more promising candidates and that your incubation programmes will be paying off, making it easier for organisations like CAIA to invest in prosperous businesses and achieve greater results together. 

Eventually, CAIA focuses on quality investment, not quantity. We thrive to provide opportunities to smaller businesses, instead of focusing on big companies. Our aim is to continuously contribute to a healthier ecosystem in Angola and increase the significance of Angel Investment. But our vision doesn’t stop in Angola, we hope to enhance Angel Investment across the whole of continent of Africa. We aspire to be the leading destination for venture investment, in thirty years from now!   

Find out more about the word-of-mouth business of CAIA on their LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/clube-angolano-investidores-anjo-4a853420b/?originalSubdomain=ao

A successful beginning to be continued! 

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