Utshalo, a new fintech company, has launched with plans to reconnect retail and non-institutional investors with companies looking to raise capital to save South Africa’s public markets.
Utshalo was founded as a partnership between Paul Miller, CEO of AmaranthCX, and digital communications agency Ince.
In launching the new fintech company, Miller referred to the “delisting” crisis afflicting the JSE, which has picked up pace since 2010.
In 2023, there are expected to be 27 delistings and only six listings across all South Africa’s exchanges.
Not only has the number of delistings been in steady decline, but the proportion involving capital raising has also declined.
According to Miller, one party that has been left out during the reform and restructuring of South Africa’s financial services industry in the last few decades is the retail investor.
The JSE is now dominated by ten large asset management institutions, resulting in many smaller listed companies being unable to raise money and a decline in the attractiveness of listing on the exchange.
Miller said the industry needed a policy intervention, but that is not going to happen, which is why he founded Utshalo.
Utshalo is a digital platform that connects companies looking to raise capital through initial public offerings (IPOs), private placements, or book builds with retail investors.
“The reason why we have to do this is because the link between individual investors, non-institutional investors, and companies looking to raise capital has been broken,” Miller told Classic Business.
Utshalo is not a brokerage platform and is not looking to compete with traditional stock brokers.
Instead, individual investors will register on Utshalo’s platform and be offered opportunities to invest in companies looking to raise capital in various forms.
Miller said Utshalo acts for the issuer, not the investor, and, therefore, has an entirely different set of incentives than a traditional investment platform. Thus, the issuer, not the investor, will pay for the services.
The aim is “to encourage participation and access to primary capital raising, and liquidity generally; by connecting issuers and sellers with direct investors in a modern, regulatory compliant, digital, low-friction way; and thereby address the declining role of South African public markets.”
“If we do not get this right, we cannot say that South Africa has a truly public market anymore,” Miller said.
“I am not ready to give up on our public markets in South Africa yet.”