Bahrain’s Al Waha ‘Fund of Funds’ has allocated approximately $45 million of the $100 million announced at its launch in May 2018, according to fund manager Areije Al Shakar.
According to Bahraini officials, the venture capital fund is aimed at boosting the country’s start-up ecosystem, as well as providing VC funds to support start-ups across the region.
Speaking to Arabian Business on the sidelines of the GCC Financial Forum in Manama on Tuesday, Al Shakar - who is also senior vice president of Bahrain Development Bank - said that the $45 million has been allocated across five different funds.
Its $100 million fundraising round was closed in June 2018.
“Ultimately, all those funds are working to set up here and to be located here,” she said. “We’ve been working on looking at different funds that we may consider investing in in the future.”
The fund has an investment period of five years, with a fund term of 10 years.
“We expect that we will deploy it in under five years,” she said. “We’ll probably make another investment in 2019 and over into 2020. Hopefully that will create a good example and a good first step towards creating this venture capital capability and capacity in Bahrain.”
Additionally, Al Shakar said that the creation of the fund has drawn increasing awareness among VCs about potential opportunities in the country.
“It’s actually started to evolve into a platform...we might not necessarily be able to meet timelines for investment, but these portfolio companies are now exploring Bahrain,” she said. “Fund managers have been spending time in Bahrain and getting to know the overall environment and the ecosystem.”
She added that the fund has a “very interesting and diverse” LP (limited partner) base which includes Mumtalakat, the National Bank of Bahrain, Batelco Group, Taken and Bahrain Development bank, which serves as a general partner managing the fund.
“There’s opportunity for fund managers that come through our pipeline for review to find potential opportunities for partnerships or even business opportunities for their portfolio companies,” she said. “It’s very much tying in with all the different initiatives that the country is doing.”
Bahrain’s start-up scene has benefitted in recent years from a reduction in the amount of capital necessary to start a business and measures to enable onshore crowdfunding.
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