Home Thought Leader The Davos of the Global Early Stage Investment Community

The Davos of the Global Early Stage Investment Community


Revered ecosystem thought-leader and President of the European Trade
Association for Business Angels (EBAN), Candace Johnson, reflects on
WBAF’s successful journey since 2015, and looks toward a bright future
for this global Angel Investor community.


As we prepare to come to this year’s WBAF World Congress 2018, I think back to all of the wonderful Forums from the last three years. This year we will have a full two and a half days of excellent, insightful presentations, and discussions on the most important topics and issues informing our early stage investment ecosystem.

Already in 2015, the first WBAF was ahead of the curve; defined by its very innovative proposition to provide a forum where Business Angels could come together from all over the world; discover what other Angels were doing; exchange best practices; and learn from not only their peers in their own sector, but also from those in government, corporations, financial and educational institutions, chambers of commerce, etc.

Be it the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia, the UK Minister of Trade, Ministers from Albania, Kosovo, Zambia, Bahrain, leaders of some of the largest corporations in the world – not to mention the presidents of Stock Exchanges, Chambers of Commerce and large investment funds; over the years, WBAF has hosted them all. We have all benefited from their counsel, their predictions, and their insights, just as they have benefited from our Business Angel investing perspective, needs, and recommendations. WBAF has been a true forum in the best sense of the word; with not only great speeches, discussions, workshops, pitching, and mentoring, but also plenty of time scheduled for networking, brainstorming, and taking in the fabulous heritage of Istanbul.

Each of these topics
has inspired all of us to
look at our early-stage
investment ecosystem in
a new light, and to grow
and learn as a result.

Alongside the geographical focus from the first years and the luminaries addressing the Forum, each year has had a specific topic. In the inaugural 2015 forum, the topic was Easing Access to Finance from Start-up to Scale-up to Early Exit. This was followed by Developing Public– Private Partnerships to Empower Angel Investments and Partnering with Corporate Ventures for More Innovation in 2016 and 2017. These have all lead to this year’s topic on Connecting Angel Investors with Wealth Management Institutions. Each of these topics has inspired all of us to look at our early-stage investment ecosystem in a new light, and to grow and learn as a result.

Whereas most people would say that Baybars Altuntas, the Chairman of WBAF is a master promoter and genius marketeer, it is at the WBAF where his true passion and gift as an educator comes to the fore. The meticulous documentation, the training sessions, the topics, the speeches, the speakers — all have been done with a plan to bring about systematic growth in early-stage investing throughout the world.

Many organisations have tried to put in place global infrastructures around the promotion and dissemination of early-stage investing and Angels Investing. The only one that has truly succeeded in making an impact, and bringing about a paradigm shift in the appreciation and importance of Business Angels – and the Smart Finance they bring across the world stage, is the World Business Angels Investment Forum. The European Trade Association for Business Angels and Early Stage Markets (EBAN) is very proud to be partners with this seminal event.


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