There are many options for companies to raise funds in Belgium to obtain the necessary means to develop in a sustainable and viable way.
1. Business angels
There are various Business Angels entrepreneur networks in Belgium.
The two main and/or most "institutional" networks are:
- Be Angels, active in Brussels and Wallonia
- Ban Flanders (Business Angels Network Flanders), active in Flanders
The Be Angels network is supported by the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region, among others. It has over 420 members.
Be Angels has two main missions:
- the development of activities promoting support and financing by Business Angel
- the promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit
Each project goes through the following four stages:
- Submission of application: registration of the project via the link available on the Be Angels website and submission of the appropriate documents.
- Selection Committee: when Be Angels considers that an investor from its network may be interested in partial or full financing, the entrepreneur is invited to present their project to the Selection Committee (framework, modalities, etc.). The entrepreneur has seven minutes to present their project and must then answer the questions asked by the Selection Committee members.
- Presentation at the Investment Forum: Be Angels organises around ten meetings (forums) a year, where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to present their project in front of an assembly of investors. After signing the entrepreneurial contract, the entrepreneur will be supported in preparing their dossier, particularly with regard to its presentation.
- Option: Be Angels collects expressions of interest after the Investment Forum. The first working meetings with the Business Angels and entrepreneurs are organised. Be Angels and its network of experts also support the entrepreneur and investor in the negotiation process.
Once a month, the investors receive a list of the selected projects, with a complete and anonymous description of each one.
Ban flanders (business angels netwerk vlaanderen vzw)
BAN Flanders (www.ban.be/en) has more than 200 affiliated private investors and has offices in Brussels, Leuven, Ghent, Antwerp, Hasselt, Geel and Bruges.
Its main tasks:
- raise awareness of business angel financing among entrepreneurs and business angel candidates;
- inform, train and prepare entrepreneurs;
- inform and prepare business angels;
- connect entrepreneurs with business angels;
- bring business angels together to form syndicates.
For 23 years, BAN Flanders (Business Angels Netwerk Vlaanderen vzw) has been connecting promising entrepreneurs with informal investors, preparing them for equity financing and providing them with personal guidance throughout the process. It can help find financing of up to around 1 million euros in all sectors, but does not cover projects in the retail, hospitality and project development sectors.
BAN Flanders receives more than 600 applications a year from start-ups and promising companies looking for capital and knowledge. About a hundred of these files are selected and presented to the Business Angels' network via monthly matching events and a permanent online portal. After the pitching, a full negotiation support process begins, during which the parties get to know each other better and work towards an investment agreement.
Ultimately, it is the entrepreneur who determines who they want to work with - sometimes several business angels - and who they "authorise" to enter their company. This method offers no guarantee of success, but is the best way to achieve sustainable and high value-added cooperation.
At the end of 2021, BAN Flanders also launched the Angelwise fund, a new €20 million fund that allows Business Angels, together with institutional investors, to be involved in larger investment projects (up to €3 million).
2. Venture Capitalist and Private Equity firms
Several companies of this type are active on the Belgian market. Most are part of the BVA, the Belgian Venturing Association, the association of private equity & venture capital players in Belgium. Their website lists their members as well as a range of useful information.
In Belgium, there are also several types of venture capital structures created at the initiative of public authorities. The idea here is of course to contact only those structures likely to invest in companies working in the Brussels Region, more specifically the following two stakeholders:
Finance.brussels and its subsidiary Brusoc can support the creation, reorganisation, expansion or transfer of private companies. It works either by purchasing shares when a company's capital is created or increased, subscribing to the issuing of a bond, or granting a potentially subordinated loan.
The St'Art Investment Fund is a financial instrument created by the Walloon Region and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. It aims to support the development of the cultural and creative economy by targeting SMEs (including non-profit organisations) in Brussels and Wallonia whose activities are related to the performing arts, fashion, digital arts, architecture, heritage, plastic arts, video games, music, publishing, radio, television, design, etc.
Tips & tricks for fundraising
- It is essential to create a precise timetable that defines each objective and each step during a fundraising campaign.
- Don't look for financing until you are completely ready, even if investors express interest today. But don't wait too long either. Timing is everything when raising funds.
- Provide detailed, data-driven documentation and, above all, always be transparent with your potential investors.