The startup ecosystems in the Balkan region suffer from the same syndrome—a lack of private capital that startups can use to grow their businesses. Why is that? If you ask startups, they will say that no Investment Funds or Business Angels are interested in investing in them. However, if you ask VC funds and Business Angels why they wouldn’t invest in startups from the Balkans, they will say that there are no investable startups. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It’s a chicken or the egg situation.
To overcome this issue, ecosystem builders worked on both sides of the equation. They supported startups in becoming investable. At the same time, they tried to gain the interest of potential investors. This is not an easy job, and it requires a lot of energy, networks and resourcefulness.
Luckily, ecosystem builders can ask for support, too. The Swiss Entrepreneurship Program has been helping them build up their capacities and support startups in their communities for over six years. Over the years, the Swiss EP team got familiar with the complexities of investment readiness among startups and the lack of potential investors. Now, the team is ready to take a more active role in overcoming this challenge.
Experimenting with different formats of support for startups, the Swiss EP team already co-created and piloted:
- Western Balkans Angel Academy – capacity building program for groups of local Angel Investors.
- Regional Investment Readiness Program for Female Founders – tailor-made program for women founders to prepare them for the investment journey.
- Sales ScaleUp program – program specialized in improving sales processes for startups.
- Content Marketing Program: Content as Force for Good – specialized marketing program for startups who want to improve their overall marketing presence.
- Next level Demos – hands-on program for startups using demos as a part of their sales process.
The next step for the Swiss EP team was to join forces with partners from five Balkans countries where the program is active – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Together, they co-created the Western Balkans Investment Readiness Program.
The idea behind the program is simple—enable startups to learn and work on improving their business. At the same time, in such a supportive and safe environment, startups get encouraged to meet investors. The twist in this program is that the investors will also be mentors, so they will too open up, share insights and deliver the occasional hard truths about investment.
Western Balkans Investment Readiness Program will have three goals:
- To raise the level of investment readiness among participating startups,
- To help local startups get their documentation ready for the investment process,
- To introduce startups to local, regional and international investors.
The answer to why we need the Western Balkans Investment Readiness Program is simple: because we want our regional startup ecosystems to thrive. We want to see them grow and develop. And we want our startups to be globally successful, with a pool of investors supporting them each step of the way.
Application for the program will start on December 8th. We will follow the program’s progress, so stay tuned for more information on the Western Balkans Investment Readiness Program.