Ex-govt pension fund boss named Uprise.Africa chairman

Prabir Badal, new chairman of the Uprise Fund Board.

SA's equity crowdfunding platform, Uprise.Africa has appointed former deputy chairperson of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), Prabir Badal as chairman of the Uprise Fund Board.

In his new position, Badal will provide critical leadership and governance oversight to advance the strategic direction of the organisation.

He is also tasked with the responsibility of monitoring the execution of the overall business strategy of Uprise.Africa.

Targeted at both investees and investors, Uprise.Africa facilitates the investment process for small to medium enterprises and entrepreneurs through crowdfunding. Its online equity crowdfunding model enables multiple investors to support entrepreneurs through buying equity in their businesses.

"We are exceedingly pleased to have Prabir Badal join as chairman," says Tabassum Qadir, CEO of Uprise.Africa.

"Badal will be a valuable mentor and strategist to Uprise.Africa, bringing his rich financial insight, entrepreneurial spirit and far-reaching knowledge of the investment industry to the table. The Uprise.Africa team looks forward to the leadership and insight from a seasoned industry veteran."

Badal had been with GEPF for 11 years, having served as the chairperson of the organisation's finance audit committee and most recently as the deputy chairperson.

GEPF is the sixth largest pension fund in the world, with 1.2 million members and an asset value of R1.6 trillion.

Badal believes the local SME sector is "extremely vulnerable", despite it being the catalyst for SA's economic growth.

"The local SME sector is considered a high risk when it comes to accessing funding to kick-start opportunities. Our primary short-term goals are to create public awareness on our investment initiative and model, to afford SMEs an alternative opportunity to seek funding for their innovation and ideas," explains Badal.

"Long term, we need to sustain and continuously improve the business model strategy as well as compliance and governance as the fourth industrial revolution presents a significant opportunity. We must embrace the fact that there are hidden gems, ideas and innovations within our economy and draw out those opportunities into the economically active mainstream."

Development plans

Uprise.Africa recently secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Nexxus Ventures.

The investment, according to the company, will be used on upscaling the business with a critical focus on helping many promising South African businesses become "Silicon Valley-ready".

The crowdfunding platform says it will be appointing additional senior members to the team over the next few months.

The company's COO and co-founder, Patrick Schofield, and head of relationships, Vuyisa Qabaka, will both be assuming the role of board members, stepping down from the day-to-day operations.

"Uprise.Africa is in the development of comprehensive partnership strategies, and will announce the launch of an affiliate programme for the Incubators/ Accelerators Network and will look to optimise growth and acquisitions through affiliates," notes Qadir.

Other board members of Uprise.Africa Fund include Colin Mkhonza - CEO of the South African Chemical Technology Business Incubator; Palesa Ngomeza - senior audit manager at BDO SA and Samukelo Zwane - head of product, Wealth and Investment Management at FNB.

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