500 Startups, a Silicon Valley-based venture firm, has established $30 million fund for start-ups in in the Middle East and North Africa.
The newest regional micro-fund has been named 500 Falcons – the name chosen to represent falcons as an important aspect of Arab culture. It will focus on seed stage investments between $50,000 to $100,000, with the goal of investing in 100-200 companies.
The main areas of focus will be e-commerce and marketplaces, video and Arabic content, SaaS, mobile, fintech, hardware and IoT. Furthermore, they plan to do follow-on investments of up to $500,000 in the top 20 percent to 30 percent of the companies, with potential additional capital from their main global fund in selected deals.
Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups, has been reported as saying that the venture firm plans to invest in nascent companies in a region, which “is poorly understood by other tech investors,” he said to Bloomberg Business.
The fund will be led by Hasan Haider, a Bahrain-based 500 Startups Partner, and in the near future will also include other 500 venture partners in local MENA geographies and markets.
Two years ago, 500 Startups made its first investment in the Middle East in a start-up called Jeeran, a local reviews platform that has grown to a quarter of a million reviews in 10 cities. They currently have over 30 existing investments in MENA.
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