Dany Farha, CEO and cofounder at BECO Capital, a regional venture capital firm focused on technology investments in the MENA region, shares his ten reasons why investors should look to the technology space in the region today.
Participation in the next revolution: Due to the Internet, smartphones and all the opportunities that they bring, from augmented reality (AI) to autonomous transport to Internet of Things (IOT), we are at the cusp of a revolution akin to the agricultural or industrial, with the Internet being what electricity was for urbanisation and what railway tracks were for transport.
Ecosystem readiness: The MENA ecosystem has matured enough to have reached the point where we can start investing the appropriate amounts in early-stage tech companies to drive successful returns as per our global peers.
High quality jobs: In 2014 technology became the top paying sector in the US, beating out oil and gas, consulting and financial services, which had held this top spot for decades. The trend is clear: Tech is the new oil!
Sustainable job creation: It takes a one-time investment of $30,000 in early-stage tech companies through venture capital firms to create one job on average, without requiring further handouts or state subsidies. These jobs are highly rewarding and highly paid jobs that support families and provide dignity and stability.
Strategic assets: We need to keep the ownership of our jewels, which in many cases are our future strategic assets. Could you imagine if our oil conglomerates and banks were foreign-owned?
Innovation is global: Technology is a great leveller of the playing field. Coding can be learned online at home. Innovation will come from the most creative minds, and MENA will participate in this revolution with the appropriate funding
Local is king: Tech companies require mission-driven teams solving large local problems for a large MENA audience, which requires a regional rollout to create true defensibility
Digital DNA: Traditional businesses will mostly miss the digital revolution, and if they try to build from within, they will fail due to a lack of digital DNA – digital entrepreneurs must build these companies and therefore require funding to do so
Market size: MENA’s GCC, Egypt and Levant have populations of over 160 million people, who are amongst the youngest and most digitally-connected in the world, and also have relatively high GDPs per capita to support multi-billion dollar businesses. The tipping point for an economic bloc or region is 50 million broadband subscribers – this is what is required to reach critical mass. We have surpassed that in MENA and are still growing at double digits
Financial returns: The financial returns will be commensurate with the technological revolution currently underway in our region.