The Synergy and Crowdfunding Forum organized by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) exemplified the keen interest in equity crowdfunding as over 550 individuals showed up to participate in the two day event held in Kuala Lumpur. The group included over 250 entrepreneurs, over 50 investors plus a mix of academics, regulators and students. SC is supportive of both angel investing and equity crowdfunding as they seek methods to encourage small business growth.
The event started with some of the background and history of investing in Malaysia. Following the decline in government grants supporting startups back in 2009, angel investing started to pick up to fill the gap in funding. Cradle, an investment program managed under the Ministry of Finance, and MBAN, a leading Malaysian angel group, sought additional information and perspective from angel groups around the world. This was the start of a strategic shift as a bill was drafted to support early stage investing and the Angel Acts Tax was passed into law with the support of the SC.
At that time, MBAN acknowledged the sentiment about angel investments stating: it is sad that brilliant Malyasian startups are being funded by foreign investors. Malaysian investors should acknowledge and recognize more the capabilities of Malaysian startups. Expectations are that MBAN and government officials are working on crafting additional legislation to boost early stage investing. Simultaneously MBAN has placed a “Call to Action” telling startups to contact them about helping to find investors.
Because the discussion on the relationship between angel investing and equity crowdfunding is still in its early stages in Malaysia the audience was a bit perplexed in understanding the synergies between the two overlapping forms of capital allocation.
There continues to be so many questions about investment or equity crowdfunding in general. Meanwhile Angel investing is is still not quite mature in Malaysia, especially when compared to Singapore. Education and communication on both topics are vital to increasing public awareness and acceptance.
Expectations are for final crowdfunding regulations to be completed and operational by next March while the rules are waiting for parliamentary approval. SC has clearly committed to the benefits of this new form of financing. The SC Chairman, Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh, participated in the conference for the entire day – a clear sign of SC’s interest in the opportunities delivered by investment crowdfunding and angel investing. Malaysia intends on being a leader in equity crowdfunding in Asia.
Two rewards based crowdfunding platforms were present at the conference including Pitchin (Malaysia) and Crowdonomics (Singapore). In reward based crowdfunding, funders receive rewards, often in the form of products or services, instead of equity. Shekra, an investment platform based in Egypt, was also present for the event and they are considering opening up a platform in Malaysia. The conference also attracted new players in the industry that target specific customer groups, like for example Woomentum, a Singapore based initiative, that helps women entrepreneurs get funded.
The atmosphere was positive and encouraging. The support and commitment from the securities regulators is a sign that crowdfunding is arriving in Malaysia soon. SC understands its huge potential and SC is preparing the ground to support this new financial innovation.
Mouna Aouri Langendorf is the founder and CEO of Woomentum, a social entrerprise based in Singapore. Born and raised in Tunisia, the Jewel ofNorth Africa and the leading liberal country in the Arab world, she graduated and started her career as a Bridge engineer in Tunis. At the age of 25, the Japanese government awarded Mouna a scholarship to pursue her Masters in Urban Engineering at Ibaraki University. This begun a wonderful seven-year adventure in Japan, which has become very close to her heart. During this time she completed her Masters and started work in Tokyo for a renowned Japanese engineering firm, eventually becoming the Regional Manager of Advitam Group, a daughter company of the giant French Vinci Group!Relocating to Singapore with her husband in 2011, Mouna through that steep road of rebuilding her network from scratch has taught her good lessons about herself, and about women and their challenges. She felt particularly interested in the women entrepreneurship space and asked the question ‘What do women need to get going?’In January 2014, Woomentum and crowd funding was the answer. Woomentum is a social enterprise that helps women get going with their ideas while gaining momentum in these times where more tools are available to them!