Wamda Capital today launched a $75 million regional growth stage venture fund, Wamda MENA Ventures I, the largest of its kind in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region.
The Fund has completed its first close with leading regional and international investors, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, the Abraaj Group, Crescent Enterprises and Zain Group.
“This new fund is indicative of investor confidence in the region,” commented Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman, Wamda Capital. “It fills an emerging equity funding gap facing entrepreneurs, which inhibits otherwise scalable companies from unlocking market potential and becoming regional and global successes.”
With the launch of the Fund, Wamda Capital is poised to become the MENA region’s premier venture capital firm with investment teams on the ground in the region’s innovation hubs of Dubai, Amman and Beirut with a presence planned in Cairo.
As entrepreneurs, the investment team understood that the lack of emerging equity financing inhibits growth in start-ups. Wamda MENA Ventures I builds on the success of the team’s seed stage investment vehicle MENA Venture Investments, the region’s largest seed stage investment fund.
Wamda Capital’s core strategy is to target investments in high growth and capital efficient technology start-ups led by exceptional entrepreneurs – leaders in their markets.
Wamda Capital’s key value proposition to its portfolio is the ability to provide on-going and in-depth strategic support, access to lucrative markets in the GCC through unique partnership programs and in-depth subject matter expertise in key segments such as e-commerce, digital content, fin-tech and enterprise e-offerings.
Wamda Capital’s investment team has an unrivalled breadth of experience, each having been deeply involved in building entrepreneurial companies. Wamda Capital is led by Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, who has been instrumental in the development of the ecosystem by supporting entrepreneurial activity in the Arab world for over 20 years.
Ghandour was one of the founding investors in Maktoob, the target of the most prominent technology start-up exit in MENA. He has also worked to align participants in the region’s still nascent entrepreneurship ecosystem such as Endeavor, Injaz, Oasis500 and others, while funding and scaling start-ups and establishing entrepreneurship platforms with impact beyond funding.
The Wamda Platform, launched during the hallmark ‘Celebration of Entrepreneurship’ event in 2010, has been the base for the team’s reach into the ecosystem. Ghandour is supported by three partners; Khaled Talhouni, Walid Faza and Lana Alamat. Habib Haddad, CEO of the Wamda Platform, will be engaged with the new Fund as a Venture Partner.
“The tech sector is being fuelled by rising demand and has the potential to drive development, employment and innovation across the region,” added Ghandour. “We have been working with tech entrepreneurs from the very early stages of this industry and will be continuing our journey.
“Working through the Fund to complete the cycle to maturity, starting from early stage investing, to growth, we will be looking to scale startups beyond MENA borders and create successful exits,” he added. “We are at the cusp of an incredible phase of growth in the MENA region’s tech sector.”
Wamda Capital launches the Fund with investments in three companies:
News Group International – specialises in the sourcing, distribution, creation, monitoring and analysis of media intelligence in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
Jamalon – the largest Arabic books online store working to be the region’s foremost knowledge provider.
LittleBits Electronics – the maker of modular electronic bits that snap together for prototyping or learning, putting the power of electronics in everyone’s hands and democratising hardware.
Originally published on www.cpifinancial.net