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  • Writer's pictureKhothatso Mahlangu

Finding the Alpha in Alternatives

Alternative Investments have been around since the idea of investing was started, possibly even before, think royalty accumulated real assets like paintings, property, and horses.

More recently, few can forget the crazy years of crypto with teenagers posting their new Lamborghinis all over social media, bought with the proceeds from selling dog-faced digital money at 1,000% profit. But the last few years of sticky inflation, increasing rates, and geo-political tension have put an end to the so-called “easy money”, gone are the post-Covid years of Private Equity hotshots taking companies public at insane valuations.

Even though mentions of companies like WeWork (which seems to be filing for bankruptcy) and memes covered in rocket emojis have disappeared from news feeds, the world of alternative investments has still been growing at a healthy pace, albeit in a not-so-in-your-face manner with massive in-flows. This has mainly been driven by the volatility experienced in almost every category of the traditional investment portfolio, locally you can add exchange rate fluctuations to that list. 

In addition to increased risk, outperformance has been hard to find, with traditional portfolios struggling to earn inflation-beating returns. Even worse for those who must draw an income from their investments, in an ever more expensive world. 

These factors are the reason we have seen an uptick in demand for alternative investments. The main draw is a low correlation between the stock market and the smooth return profile. 

Alternative assets aren’t impacted as severely by the comments of politicians or load-shedding, which in a South African context makes them almost a necessity. Some alternative assets also provide relatively stable returns, allowing investors to budget and plan with an increased level of certainty.

The biggest drawbacks for alternative assets have historically been accessibility and liquidity. 

Besides crypto, alternative assets such as art, hedge funds and private equity have been reserved for the mega wealth who have millions of disposable incomes available and are prepared to have that money locked up for a couple of years. This is fortunately position most South Africans don’t find themselves in.

But recently the market has seen a shift, with more and more offerings catering for a greater majority of retail investors. From smaller minimum investments to monthly liquidity, the alternative landscape is becoming accessible to most retail investors. Making now the perfect time to diversify your current investment portfolio with alternatives and add some much-needed returns. 

What is Purchase Order Funding?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of a government department paying R10 000 for a broom, or R25 000 for some kneepads. Apart from these isolated, overhyped examples, valid Purchase Orders make up a large portion of the South African economy.

At its core, a Purchase Order is a document that Company A gives to Company B when A wants to buy something from B. Every time a large company or government department wants to buy something or anything, one of these orders gets issued. The products can range from simple things like supplying the monthly ration of juice to a municipality, to complex tasks like maintaining (unsuccessfully it seems) Eskom’s boilers for a year. The breadth of this market means that there are trillions of Rands worth of orders flowing through the economy every year.

The problem that many entrepreneurs face is that they often don’t have the cash available to complete these orders. 

Let’s take the juice example. Your business receives an order for R130 000 worth of juice, you need R100 000 to buy and deliver all the stock. The issue is funding for these short-term transactions is hard to come by. Not everyone has a sizeable overdraft to draw from, and the banks tend to shy away from short-term lending.

This is where Purchase Order Funding comes in:

These lenders step in to help all sorts of businesses to complete the orders they have. The lender would provide the R100 000 needed for the juice, and when payment is made, take their capital and interest back. These lenders are often heavily involved in the entire process of each deal, from providing advice along the way, to physically ensuring that the right products (both quality and quantity) are bought and delivered on time.

The scale and opportunity in this market are exactly why Unum Capital created the Alpha Upgrade Fund. This fund allows investors to capitalize on the margins within the Purchase Order market while running it through a regulated and award-winning Fund Manager. The Fund uses a dedicated team of credit providers and analysts with expertise in the Purchase Order market to deploy investor funds into the best deals, with superior risk-adjusted returns. Alpha Upgrade targets short-term deals, preferably between 30 and 90 days, allowing investors short-term access to their funds.

While Purchase Order Funding may not sound like the sexiest of investment solutions, it is an excellent tool for investors to enter a relatively untapped market. With the turbulence of today’s investing world, adding returns and diversification to your portfolio is a must, even if the money is made by buying some juice.

Discover the power of our Alpha Upgrade Fund and how it can elevate your investment strategy. Connect with our team today for more information and take a step towards financial empowerment!

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