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New $60m fund to invest in 120 MENA-based startups amid Covid-19 tech rally

New $60m fund to invest in 120 MENA-based startups amid Covid-19 tech rally

The fund will invest in tech startups across sectors including fintech, healthtech and edutech

A new $60m venture capital fund will invest in 120 early-stage startups across the MENA region to corroborate a surge in technology uptake in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Led by an ex-Google executive Sharif El-Badawi and Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) firm veteran Hasan Haider, Plus Venture Capital (+VC) will have key operations based in Bahrain, with offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

The fund will invest in tech and tech-enabled startups across all sectors, including fintech, healthtech and edutech, in addition to logistics, content and ecommerce.

“The MENA startup scene, rather than being crushed by the pandemic, has bounced back with renewed vigour. Major market slumps usually lead to big rebounds – the 2008 financial crash is just the most recent example. Tech companies emerged the clear winners from the last downturn, and this time around the Middle East is ideally placed to leapfrog other major startup economies as the recovery gets underway,” said Haider, an entrepreneur and former investment banker.

“Money is flowing into the region at an unprecedented rate, but is still just barely keeping up with the pace of Middle Eastern innovation. MENA’s agile startups and entrepreneurs are racing to develop new solutions in fields as varied as healthtech, fintech and edutech that meet the fast-evolving consumer needs of the Covid era.

“Plus Venture Capital plans to aggressively invest in building a broadly diversified portfolio of seed-stage startups over the next three years, with a target of 120 firms.

“With our team having invested in many startups over the years, we can provide the right level of support to the founders that we invest in. Our founders can expect deep support from experienced practitioners as well as access to a unique network of operators, mentors and investors,” noted Sharif El-Badawi, a serial entrepreneur, operator and investor.

“We look forward to partnering with extraordinary and innovative entrepreneurs to help build successful businesses and contribute to a vibrant regional economy.”

The MENA region, with its young and highly connected market of more than 400 million, is fast emerging as a key startup ecosystem, having seen several recent exits including the $3bn acquisition of Careem by Uber in 2019 and Souq by Amazon in 2017.

Read: Uber confirms Careem acquisition for $3.1bn

According to regional data platform MAGNiTT, more than $659m was invested in MENA-based startups in the first half of 2020 – representing a staggering 95 per cent of total venture investments in the previous year.

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