BLUE LUXURY INVESTING, based in Kampala, Uganda, is an investment management company that focuses on investing in viable ventures that demonstrate a clear return on equity whilst leaving a positive social impact on the sector in which the project is operating. The company’s primary market focus is infrastructural development, clean energy, and technology advancement among others.
We had the opportunity to email interview the founder of Blue Luxury Investing, Maria E. Auma , and here it is:
- Tell us about yourself and your organization
My name is Maria E. Auma. I started Blue Luxury Investments (BLI), www.blueluxuryinvestments.com, in November 2014 initially as a whole sale and real estate company. However, it become apparent that the market was saturated and that we needed to re-brand ourselves to a more focused niche market of finance for development. This change was gradual and by the end of September 2015, we had already fully re-branded to focus on Private Equity, Venture Capital and Alternative Financing options.
On a personal front I have been in the business of capital raising for over four years. I started my first successful business at the age of 9 years with a group of classmates called “The Kids Factory”. We created and sold story books that comprised short stories and comics and ended up making profits for ourselves. That was when I realized the potential of entrepreneurship. In the recent past I have also been able to raise working capital for companies through quickly disposing of redundant assets – something that requires skill and tact.
Currently, our company now fully focuses on raising capital in form of equity, debt and other alternative financing options for companies. We also have a passion for building the capacity of potential fast growth companies and preparing them for first round VC and Angel investing. This is important to us because these are also the same companies that we are looking at to prepare for late stage financing rounds.
- How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital?
To start a successful investing company one needs approximately USD 20,000 in Africa. Of course this number is much much higher in the US because of SEC regulations and operational expenses. However, we as BLI started with only USD 500 that I gathered from savings alone. The rest of the time we bootstrapped and used a lot of hard core networking.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?
Competition for funds from already established VC and PE firms: In the world of finance, we often have to compete against already existing companies that have built traction and have outstanding track records. However, we take this as a blessing in disguise to learn from their successes and mistakes. We are also able to readjust our models according to market trends and competitors moves.
Convincing firms of our credibility: Credibility is a real issue in finance. Investors need to trust that you will have their best interest at heart all the time. They also want to see that you have done this before and that the systems you use and third parties you work with are reputable and credible. This is why we are working with a number of existing PE firms and Hedgefunds globally. We are exploiting the power of referrals to boost our credibility and sharing pipeline deals with partners we feel add value to different levels of our value chain.
- Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
In five years, we will be one of the most sought after Alternative Finance companies in Africa. Our model encapsulates VC, PE and hedgefunds among other asset financing alternatives. We know that for Africa to grow no one form of finance will work for everyone, as different industries are at different stages of growth. On a personal front I have been investing in these different types of asset classes for the greater part of my adult life.
As a company:
- We are working on having a more global presence to attract global investors to Africa. We plan to have an established presence in the US by the end of 2017 in order to lobby for finance directly from institutions and private individuals. We realize that a lot of this development finance is channeled to institutions in Africa (through FDIs) that take long to be disbursed to projects or companies that need it, and even then accountability of the same is always a big problem.
- We have experienced mentors and strategic advisors that give guidance on strategy and what models work in given economies
- We are also actively investing in companies within Africa with our own finance. This experience is giving us deep insight into how to successfully structure companies for acquisition and for exit onto public markets. Some of our investments are in tech, retail and renewable energy.
At the end of this process, we will surely have a great track record to show.
- What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?
Just go for it! There is nothing more disappointing than watching an opportunity pass by. Find your passion, learn all that you need to do to be the best in that field and aim for the highest standard. And when you have hit that bar, set your own standard.
- How is your business participating to the development of Africa?
We are actively building the capacity and acquiring equity in businesses with high growth potential in Africa, companies that have the potential to create jobs for the youth in Africa. We are also part of forums and events that discuss Africa’s growth potential and steps that should be taken to ensure that potential is utilized. We are currently seeking opportunities to be part of policy and decision making platforms within Africa so that we can drive change as we believe in action and in getting things done.