October 23, 2017
Funding Your Startup
The toughest stage of any startup is the acquisition of funding. Whether at the idea stage or growth stage, funding can make or break your business. So, unless you’ve managed to build up hefty savings or you’ve recently inherited some money, looking for investment should be one of your first main objectives in taking your social enterprise to the next stage.
Money may not be your primary concern at the moment; however, money is extremely important in keeping your team happy and the momentum going. Raising money may seem tough, but your ability to do so will determine how far your social enterprise will go.
In today’s booming Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem, new investment opportunities are continuously opening up for entrepreneurs just like you. For idea and growth stage enterprises, several sources of funding are available:
Friends and Family
The most common source of funding entrepreneurs usually go for is from friends and family. What makes this option so great is that it is commonly in the form of an “interest-free loan” or sometimes even “free money”. Out of all the possible sources, this type of funding is always the easiest to acquire.
Crowdfunding is a new financial trend among startups and is currently gaining traction in Lebanon. Crowdfunding channels the role between entrepreneurs and funders by gaining capital from many individuals who believe in your idea.
A decree was set to regulate crowdfunding activities in Lebanon which entails crowdfunding institutions to set up an electronic platform for SMEs and startup companies to raise capital. Two options currently available to you are Zoomaal and Aflamnah.
Venture capital is a form of financing that is provided by firms to early-stage, emerging startups that have high growth potential or which have demonstrated strong growth. Three venture capital firms have already established funds in Lebanon and have raised decent amounts of money. Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Berytech Fund, LEAP Ventures, Wamda Capital and Y Venture Partners have each raised at least $50 million available to startups.
A loan is a debt provided by an entity (usually the bank) which implies an interest rate and repayment schedule. This type of funding is not ideal for startups since debt may limit your growth. However, banks in Lebanon have started to make it easier for startup businesses to acquire loans at reasonable interest rates to growth their business. Encouraged by Circular 331, banks like Al-Mawarid Bank and Société Générale de Banque au Liban aim to support startups directly.
Technically, a grant is a sum of money conditionally given to your business that you don’t have to repay. However, you’re bound legally to use it under the terms of the grant, or otherwise you may be asked to repay it. Grants may be extremely difficult to come by, but SoUK.LB is changing that.
SoUK.LB is providing idea-stage or growth-stage social enterprise startups with the guidance, training and mentorship they need in addition to the chance of acquiring a grant.
Idea-stage social enterprises will first go through a round of interviews before moving into the Sprint and Bootcamp phase. Successful entrepreneurs will then receive grants and enter the accelerator stage.
Growth-stage social enterprises will also go through a round of interviews. After a phase of due diligence, successful entrepreneurs will receive grants and move forward into the growth training and mentoring phases.