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Sun 21 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Forsa aims to raise US$272m female fund

Forsa, a company dedicated purely to female entrepreneurs has revealed that it aims to raise a US$272m investment fund to encourage more women to start their own businesses.

Forsa, a company dedicated purely to female entrepreneurs has revealed that it aims to raise a US$272m investment fund to encourage more women to start their own businesses. The company, formed by Dubai World, announced that it has already raised US$27m in just a few days prior to its official launch.

Forsa, opportunity in Arabic, plans to create a series of funds for women investors and entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors including real estate, retail, health, education and technology.

“Forsa has been formed to offer a robust investment platform. The women-only exclusive investment fund will use the expertise and global perspective of world-class managers to ensure superior returns and successful long-term growth for all participants,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of

Dubai World.

The company will focus on three categories of women including investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“By forming equity relationships with promising startups, Forsa will ensure optimal returns for investors as well as business owners. Our goal is to provide every woman who has the capability, the skill set, the desire and the commitment to run and grow her own business the means to be able to do so,” said Shamsa Noor Ali Rashid, CEO of Forsa.

The initiative has been in the pipeline for over a year. Manal Shaheen, who was responsible for creating and taking the company this far before Rashid took over, said that through her experience in real estate a great number of women investors, who might have the means but lack the experience, were very keen to invest provided there was some kind of guarantee. “They also wanted the guidance on how they should invest their money and where,” said Shaheen.

“We wanted to create something purely for women investors and since Dubai World has a lot of successful companies under its portfolio we saw this as a good chance for Forsa to get experience from those partners."

Bin Sulayem explained that Forsa would offer different investment opportunities, long and short-term, depending on investor strategies.

“Whether you want to leave your money in an investment from which you will make 5% and you’re happy or keep your money for three or four years and make 15% it’s up to you,” he said.

“Today, in DP World, we own over 52 ports and in another few years maybe 60. We do not have 100% ownership on all of them but we have partners and in the event when a partner in one of the ports wants to leave we will give the first opportunity to Forsa,” he explained.

He also added that while businesses in Dubai continue to grow and money is being made, investment opportunities that help keep the capital in the country and Dubai should be created and that Forsa was one of those opportunities.

“With Forsa you don’t need to come to us, we will come to you. We will select whether it is in real estate or other investment opportunity anywhere in the world or Dubai,” he said.

So far, Forsa has aligned itself with two internationally renowned business schools, INSEAD in Europe, and the Wharton School of Business in the US.

“We have also secured the commitment of 12 local and international corporations to support our vision to cultivate women leadership, giving birth to the Forsa Foundation.

“The Foundation will recruit and select talented, ambitious young women and enroll them in its systematic leadership development program,” added Forsa chief executive Rashid.

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