Emerging Crowd, is UK’s first investment-based crowdfunding platform focusing exclusively on frontier and emerging markets, is now fully operational, according to information provided by the company. Emerging Crowd launched with two “pilot issuers’ in mid-2015 and as of this month is now fully operational.
Emerging Crowd seeks to address a funding gap by providing access to capital, both debt and equity, for companies in emerging markets. Their primary focus is around consumer services, consumer goods, financial technology and renewables. According to the platform, all of the businesses need to demonstrate solid financial and reputational backgrounds, a proven track record, strong management teams, and good liquidity prospects. Emerging Crowd is incorporated in the UK and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The investment crowdfunding site is open to both individual and institutional investors and lists opportunities ranging from £250,000 to £3.5 million.
Emerging Crowd has listed its first new issuer, Amara Suites, a West Africa serviced apartment platform. The company was founded by CEO Abi Adisa, who received his MBA from Wharton. Amara currently operates 78 luxury apartments in prime locations throughout Lagos, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Said to be ranked #1 on TripAdvisor, Amara offers modern, comfortable, well-appointed and cost-effective serviced apartments with five-star amenities (trained cooks, uninterrupted power, housekeeping and laundry, security, grocery provisions, drivers, and premium concierge services) that are targeting medium to longer-term stays.
Will Tindall, co-founder of Emerging Crowd, said that Amara has a first mover advantage and a credible management team. Amara is seeking £1 million in equity capital for a 6.79% equity stake. Pre-money valuation was placed at £13.7 million. The service is said to be competitive with5 star hotels and their current client base includes managers from multiple Fortune 100 companies. The new capital will be used to increase the size of the apartment portfolio and furnishing new properties. The company will also be looking to increase online market penetration and reducing high interest debt.
“Having already proven its ability to execute, it is now able to sign apartment management contracts with landlords, allowing it to split the occupancy risk through a revenue-sharing model. This allows the company to leverage its fixed assets and marketing platform more efficiently and provide a lower-risk model that can be implemented quickly throughout other Nigerian markets and across Africa,” said Tindall.
“Having completed my MBA at Wharton, I returned to Nigeria to take advantage of the growth potential in the hospitality sector created by Nigeria’s quick rise in economic importance. Hotel prices in the commercial capital Lagos are among the top five in the world according to travel experts Hogg Robinson, and we believe the serviced apartment sector is significantly under-penetrated and represents a very large and attractive opportunity.”
“Based on benchmark proportions from other major cities, 10% of hotel rooms should be serviced apartment units catering to longer-stay travellers. This means that Lagos should have approximately 1,000 serviced apartment units, when in reality, there are currently only around 100 institutional quality serviced apartment units in Lagos, of which we manage and operate 78. The combination of a growing appetite for Africa in the private equity space, the possibility of a trade sale to one of the many international hospitality brands expanding their Africa footprint, and the option of an eventual listing on a stock exchange means that Amara investors will have several compelling exit opportunities.”
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