Regardless of factors such as location and industry, all new businesses have one thing in common: they all need funding in order to grow their products and services and reach wider audiences. However, even in such fast-developing entrepreneurial markets as the Middle East, local entrepreneurs have faced hurdles that have hindered their ability to access the funding that they need during their companies’ earliest stages of operations. In the face of these roadblocks, a number of venture capital firms have emerged to help this ever-growing network of startups.
Here are only a few of the venture capital firms that Middle Eastern entrepreneurs should know about:
Though it is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wamda Capital serves a wide range of technology startups across the entire Middle East. Focusing primarily on early-stage funding, the firm provides seed and growth venture capital and helps connect its partner startups to mentoring resources that they will need to scale their businesses and ultimately make a successful exit from its venture capital program. Amidst the firm’s diverse portfolio of startups are such entities as Careem, Mumzworld, and The Luxury Closet.
twofour54 Abu Dhabi
twofour54 is one of Abu Dhabi’s premier tax-free media zones. However, it also offers a number of other services that cater to the needs of startups. Working exclusively with businesses in the entertainment and media sectors, the startup hub runs an entire subdivision dedicated to venture capital funding. This arm, known as twofour54 ibtikar, primarily looks for candidates that boast impressive management teams, focus their work within the Middle Eastern region, and operate close to the hub itself. Outside of its individual early-stage and growth-funding deals, twofour54 also supports local startups by participating in joint venture funding cooperatives.
With its main office located in Cairo, Egypt, Sawari Ventures is uniquely positioned to provide venture capital funding to technology, media, and telecommunication (TMT) startups across the Middle East and North Africa. Recognizing the countless opportunities for growth in the region, the firm focuses on the primary goal of sourcing entrepreneurs with quality ideas and helping their startups make positive changes in their communities. As such, Sawari Ventures maintains an interest in startups that develop online and mobile content in Arabic. The firm encourages entrepreneurs to submit their business plans for review and then allots an initial amount between $250,000 and $1 million to the most visionary concepts.
Kuwait Life Sciences (KLSC)
Established in 2010 as part of the National Technology Enterprises Company (NTEC), KSLC supports the development of new enterprises in the healthcare and life sciences industries in the Middle East. When looking to make venture capital investments, the firm follows a specific strategy that encompasses three separate areas. In addition to its work with established industry leaders, KSLC offers an entire funding program that is dedicated to both private and public startups. These investments help partner companies gain access to the cutting-edge technologies that they need to successfully grow. More importantly, the company’s network of platforms enables those who receive venture capital funding from KLSC to have their technologies reach clients across the Middle East.
Leap Ventures provides venture capital funding for Middle Eastern startups that have moved past their earliest stages of funding and are looking to scale internationally. Operating out of offices in Dubai and Beirut, this firm typically considers semi-established startups that offer innovation and technology services. Leap Venture’s team of experienced entrepreneurs is well-equipped to support its partner startups in a number of ways. Outside of venture capital funding itself, the firm helps new businesses drive the professionalism of their teams, develop company strategies, and fill operational gaps in an effort to better position them for successful growth.
Berytech Fund II
Beirut’s most prominent banks came together to create the Berytech Fund II venture capital fund, which has helped kick start the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem of Lebanon. With $50 million in total available funding, this firm is specifically focused on the country’s early-stage, small and medium-sized enterprises. The Berytech Fund II works with partner startups in a wide range of industries, including information and communication technologies (ICT), design, and renewable energy. Each startup can receive up to $1 million to support its growth, along with a number of other acceleration services such as access to other investors and office space.
Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP)
Perhaps the most prominent of all the venture capital firms in the Middle East, MEVP has offices in Dubai, Beirut, and Silicon Valley. Even with this global reach, the company hones its funding services towards those startups that work within the markets of the Levant and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Since its inception, MEVP has accumulated an impressive startup portfolio that includes Lamsa, Fuel Powered, and Instabug. Each of these partner companies can take part in one of four different venture capital funds at MEVP. The oldest of these funds is MEVF I, a $10 million fund that has supported consumer service-focused ICT startups since 2010. MEVP also manages the Impact fund, which offers an impressive $70 million in funding to budding ICT companies based in Lebanon.