January 8, 2020 - Entrepreneurship takes a lot of time, perseverance and money. Finding an investor in Northern Ontario may seem like a daunting task but the Northern Ontario Angels (NOA) can help turn your entrepreneurship dreams into a reality.
Northern Ontario Angels are a not-for-profit corporation that facilitate essential business connections between entrepreneurs and accredited angel investors from around the world. Angel investing is a matchmaking service that helps entrepreneurs become investment ready and connects them with investors. The investors also become mentors to help the entrepreneurs grow a successful business. The NOA provides many services for entrepreneurs such as investment readiness assessments and preparation, presentation skills coaching, entrepreneur education seminars and networking activities.
In 2003, an advisory committee to FedNor established that businesses in Northern Ontario that required equity financing were at a disadvantage due to their distance from Southern Ontario. In 2004 FedNor funded a series of public consultations in five Northern Ontario cities and identified two critical issues for Northern Ontario in regard to small to medium enterprises:
- Entrepreneurs struggle with the “equity gap”.
- Entrepreneurs are challenged in locating investors and becoming investor ready.
From this criterion, the Northern Ontario Angels was created in 2005 to meet those two needs.
Since its creation, the NOA have closed 293 deals as of September 2019, invested over $131 million dollars and NOA entrepreneurs have created 3000 full time jobs. 53 per cent of companies that NOA invested in are in the technology sector with 15 per cent being in the mining sector.
There are 68 Angel groups across Canada and the United States that are part of the Angel Capital Association. The most successful Angel group is the Northern Ontario Angels, who were named the #1 Angel Organization in North America in 2018 and have been named the #1 Angel Organization in Canada consecutively for the past 7 years. Also, Mary Long-Irwin, NOA Executive Director, received the NACO Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) World Angel Investment Summit.
“We’ve been extremely successful because we have a lot of wealthy people living in the north that have made their money in the north,” Mary Long-Irwin says. “They want to make sure they support local businesses and growth because that’s where their kids live and that’s where they want their grandkids to live.”
With funding from Northern Ontario Heritage Corporation in November of 2019, NOA was able to expand their consulting services. You can now find NOA consultant services across Northern Ontario in:
- North Bay
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Thunder Bay
Northern Ontario may be small in numbers, but they are mighty and generous. With Northern Ontario being the home to the top Angel group in Canada and the United States, the Northern Ontario Angels prove that entrepreneurs located in rural areas have the potential to create innovative ideas. They just need a little financial help from an investor angel.
Evelynn Hoffman is the Communications Officer at NPI.
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