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Where start-up finance starts

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Many South Africans want to start a business and need to raise finance but are unsure of what funding options are available and what is needed to qualify them. DARLENE MENZIES, CEO of Finfind, offers some suggestions.

Access to business finance is a major challenge for entrepreneurs. The high rate of rejected loans applications and the lack of knowledge about the available offerings are just two of many issues they face.

When it comes to applying for finance, a common mistake entrepreneurs make is where to start. Instead of doing some basic research about the various lenders and finance products available, they usually head for the lenders they know of, typically the commercial banks and government grants. In reality, the banks and government provide less than 10% of the total finance needs in the start-up and small business sector. While these lenders may land up being the right fit for you, if you want to avoid wasting valuable time and money running around applying for finance options you don’t qualify for then it’s important to start with a little research.

As Abraham Lincoln said, if you give me six hours to chop down a tree I’d spend four hours sharpening the axe. It is important to do some prep, to ask yourself some key questions and to arm yourself with the relevant information.  Here are some tips on what to ask yourself and where to easily find the answers to help you secure a lender for your specific needs.

What do you need finance for? 

Be clear about what you need finance for in order to determine which lenders you should be approaching. Just as there are different reasons for raising finance, there are equally many different types of lenders and different types of finance products to match these needs. There are specific products to finance the buying of equipment and machinery, for working capital, for completing a contract, expanding your business, buying a building for your business, to buy out a partner, to buy a franchise, for exporting or importing, for a business emergency among others.

Data shows that the most common reason why entrepreneurs want to access finance is to start a business. The top three reasons why existing businesses apply for raising finance are to purchase equipment, to expand their businesses and for working capital. The good news is that there are more than 50 funds in South Africa for start-up finance and more than 70 funds available to fund the purchase of equipment.

What are the different types of finance products 

Once you are clear about what you need finance for, you can familiarise yourself with the different types of finance products available. Some of the types of finance include Asset Finance, Bootstrapping, Contract Finance, Customer Deposits, Equity, Export Finance, Import Finance, Invoice Discounting and Factoring, Mortgage Loans, Overdrafts, Property Finance, Supplier Finance and Term Loans. Decide which products fit your need and then research all you are able to, find out which lenders offer them and what you need to qualify for them.

Who are the lenders? 

When it comes to start-up funding, surprisingly, or maybe not so to anyone who has tried to access finance, more than 60% of all capital raised comes from the entrepreneur’s own savings or from loans from friends and family. If you are looking for money to start a business or money to grow your existing business, don’t discount the people you already know, your own network. If your idea or your business is worth backing the easiest place to raise finance is usually from people who already know you – they know how capable, hardworking and trustworthy you are.

There are a number of different types of lenders who provide finance to entrepreneurs, these include angels, venture capitalists (VCs), banks, debt financiers, niche lenders, Corporate Enterprise Development (ED), suppliers, personal lenders and government among others. Read up about each of them and find out who they typically fund, what products they offer and what their lending criteria is to help you decide who you should be approaching.

Who can help me answer these questions? 

Thankfully for entrepreneurs, there is an easy-to-use website that provides the answers to your questions and best of all, it’s free. This revolutionary one-stop solution for access to finance for entrepreneurs is called Finfind.

Besides providing practical tips and information on finance, Finfind’s primary service is to auto match you with all the lenders and finance options in the country that meet your specific finance needs. You are simply required to answer some questions about you as the owner and about your business and Finfind does the matching and links you with the appropriate lenders.

Finfind has a large database of the all the lenders and finance products in South Africa that is kept up to date on a daily basis. Finfind is backed by the Department of Small Business Development.

Since its launch by the Minister of Small Business Development at the end of 2015, Finfind has facilitated over 35 000 small business loan leads.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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