UOB invests $14m in Israel-based crowdfunding site

UOB invests $14m in Israel-based crowdfunding site

A perennial challenge for many entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia is that they have great ideas but little track record to sway investors to part with their money to fund projects.

Singapore-based United Overseas Bank's (UOB) head of Group Channels and Digitalisation, Janet Young, told CNBC the bank wants to help start-ups in the region by connecting their ideas with "smart money across the world."

UOB will invest US$10 million (S$13.93 million) in an Israel-based equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, where start-ups can seek investments from a large number of investors, and offer, in return, a stake in their companies.

Speaking exclusively to CNBC's "Squawk Box", Young said teams from OurCrowd and UOB will study proposals from Asian entrepreneurs, help refine them and pitch to OurCrowd's global pool of investors.

Membership to OurCrowd's investment community is vetted to allow only those who meet its "stringent accreditation criteria," according to the company's website. It states investors on OurCrowd's platform have the ability to make minimum investments of US$10,000 per deal.

"[OurCrowd] would use the crowd to validate whether your idea would be good," Young said. "They would curate, they would do due diligence and finally they would put their money into you. And put you up on the crowd[-funding platform] and have you raise funds."

OurCrowd has invested over US$200 million in its 93 portfolio companies, which include four exits.

The partnership with UOB is OurCrowd's first expansion into Asia. The company has been around for three years, and comprises ex-investment bankers and serial entrepreneurs. It has presence in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

Young said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region was the best launching pad for OurCrowd's expansion into Asia because, "there are more than 40, 50 million large SMEs, small SMEs and start-ups over here, all looking for opportunity to reach the world and be global."

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