Riyada Enterprise Development $500 million SME Fund agrees first transactions

Published November 9th, 2010 - 10:40 GMT
Riyada Enterprise Development
Riyada Enterprise Development

Riyada Enterprise Development (RED), Abraaj Capital's new US$500 million small and medium enterprise (SME) investment platform, announced today its first five investments into leading regional SMEs.

The investments are:

a significant investment in E3, a regional information technology healthcare services and solutions provider headquartered in Dubaithe provision of growth capital to an Egypt-based integrated agriculture companya significant investment in OMS, a leading Egypt-based regional IT consulting services firmgrowth capital financing for Teshkeel Media Group (TMG), a global media and entertainment company focused on creating and delivering multimedia content for childrena major investment round in d1g, a leading Jordan-based Arabic Internet Company specializing in online communities and social networking and rich media for sharing and publishing user-generated content

These inaugural investments by RED were announced today at the Celebration of Entrepreneurship, a unique two-day gathering of more than 1,500 entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, finance providers, policy makers and creative professionals from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA). In setting up the RED fund, and hosting and organising the Celebration of Entrepreneurship, Abraaj Capital is demonstrating its commitment to developing human capital and entrepreneurship across the MENASA region.

E3 is dedicated to helping Middle Eastern and North African healthcare organizations improve the quality of healthcare they provide through the use of transformational technologies and services.

Having established strategic partnerships with several leading Western healthcare-technology companies, such as Lawson, Stockell and Ardentia, E3 is ideally positioned to provide critical technologies and professional expertise to enable Middle Eastern and North African healthcare organizations to transform their operations and standards of patient care.

RED has also invested in an integrated agriculture company focusing on farming and processing artichokes in Egypt that operates throughout the artichoke value-chain with products including fresh artichokes, artichoke drums, canned artichokes and frozen artichokes.

OMS is a rapidly growing IT professional services and consulting firm. Launched in 2001 as a small local services business, OMS today has become one of the region's largest services firms, employing over 180 people and serving more than 170 clients in 24 countries. OMS specializes in enterprise solutions for the government, financial services and telecommunication sectors. A solid track record of growth, prestigious client list, extensive list of awards and sound success stories place OMS in the upper echelons of the regional services market.

Teshkeel Media Group (TMG), KSC is the Middle East's leading developer of children's entertainment products for a worldwide market. Its acclaimed comic superhero series, THE 99, is based on Islamic culture and history.

After several years developing original content for THE 99 brand, TMG is now positioned to achieve transformational growth through its animated television series scheduled for worldwide launch in early 2011.

TMG will capitalize on strategic relationships with its production partner, UK giant Endemol, and leading broadcasters in the United States and throughout the world for a successful launch of THE 99. Twenty-six episodes of the series have been completed and a second season has been commissioned.

License arrangements are underway for a broad range of consumer products that will bear THE 99 brand. In a recent joint venture with DC Comics, THE 99 can be seen standing cape to shoulder with the iconic superheroes of the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, which include such legends as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

d1g.com was launched in April 2007 to capitalize on the enormous growth in Internet penetration and digital media in the Middle East. Deriving from the Arabic 'Deewan', a place to meet, learn, and share, d1g.com provides an easy-to-use technology platform that enables users to create for free their own online communities and enables social networking and sharing rich content such as video, images, clips and mobile apps.

With 30 employees, former Yahoo! executives Dr. Usama Fayyad and Basel Ojjeh as shareholders, d1g.com is one of the fastest growing Arabic Internet sites and has more than doubled its user base over the past year to reach 4.5 million visitors per month.

"We are extremely pleased to announce the official launch of Riyada Enterprise Development here at the Celebration of Entrepreneurship, the largest-ever gathering of members of the entrepreneur ecosystem from across the MENASA region," said Tom Speechley, Abraaj Capital Partner and Chief Executive Officer of RED. "What we are aiming to achieve through RED is transformational growth in more than 100 SMEs in the next three or four years. SMEs have been starved of capital and left to their own devices and as a result they are underperforming their counterparts in other parts of the world in terms of productivity. We need to address that by providing support in all its forms, finance, mentorship, education and recognition. The private equity industry is ideally placed to take a leading role in that transformation by providing much of what is required through tried and tested solutions including long term growth equity. This is the time of the entrepreneur and this is what entrepreneurs need."

Speechley added: "The inaugural investments announced today make clear our commitment to identifying and supporting the expansion of growth stage regional SMEs that are led by strong management and that are well positioned for transformational growth.

"If we are successful and empower these businesses in the way their plans lay out we will address one of the most crucial issues facing the region today, employment. We need to create 50 million new jobs in the next 10 years just to stand still on unemployment. Only through a concerted effort by profit-driven, private sector actors can such an outcome become a reality. We need economically sustainable investment in the region's entrepreneurs and an enabling environment that induces that investment."

The Celebration of Entrepreneurship takes place from November 8-9, 2010, at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre in Dubai. 

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