Abraaj Capital Group Acquires Leading VC Firm Riyada to Spearhead New SME Platform

Published November 24th, 2009 - 11:39 GMT

Abraaj Capital Group announces that it agreed to acquire all of Riyada Ventures the leading venture capital firm in the MENA region. The acquisition is at the core of a major new push by Abraaj into the small and
medium enterprise (SME) space, which is aimed at stimulating and supporting
entrepreneurial activity in this vital segment of the MENA region's


    Riyada Ventures, which was set up in the Jordanian capital,
Amman, in 2005, this week won the 'Venture Capital Firm of the Year' award
for a second straight year at the Private Equity World MENA 2009 conference
in Dubai.


    Riyada Ventures, whose track record encompasses more than 25
regional and international venture-capital transactions, also operates an
office in Cairo. Its founder and CEO Khaldoon Tabaza has worked in the MENA
venture-capital industry since 2000, prior to which he set up several
high-growth entrepreneurial ventures. In 2006, the World Economic Forum (WEF)
named him a 'Young Global Leader'.


    Riyada Ventures will be integrated by Abraaj into its newly
launched regional SME and Entrepreneurship initiative. Khaldoon Tabaza will
continue as the CEO of the new business line of Abraaj.


    Abraaj has enjoyed significant past success in the SME space,
having been an early backer of Maktoob.com, the leading Arab language portal
recently acquired by Yahoo! It was also the original institutional investor
in companies of the caliber of Arabtec, Aramex and Amwal at very early stages
of their growth stories, each one resulting in significant returns for the
Dubai based PE firm.


    Through the new initiative, Abraaj will invest hundreds of
millions of dollars in SMEs across MENA with the aim of creating high-impact,
high-growth, successful businesses to fuel innovation, job-creation,
sustainable growth and economic diversification. At its core, the platform
will give enormous support to the indigenous entrepreneurship that exists
across the broader region.


    Abraaj will work with governments, regional and international
development and investment organisations, and Abraaj's investor base to
provide a pan-regional platform from which investments will be made.


    In addition to the commercial objectives of the platform,
Abraaj will also provide entrepreneurial support at the grassroots level in
the form of business mentoring, training and technical assistance so as to
stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in business communities across the


    For companies in which it invests, Abraaj will provide a
dedicated back-office platform to offer both strategic support services and
operational functionality to facilitate growth plans and provide mentorship
to the young entrepreneurs in the SME space, which comprises more than 80% of
economic activity across the MENA region.


    As a further commitment to the countries in which it will
invest, Abraaj will allocate a portion of the funds raised for a given nation
to the development needs of its less fortunate communities by partnering with
an established sustainable development fund that provides patient capital and
that subscribes to the philosophy of sustainable philanthropic capital.


    Founder and CEO of Abraaj, Arif Naqvi, said: "We are delighted
to welcome Khaldoon and his team at Riyada Ventures into the Abraaj group, to
spearhead our regional enterprise-development initiative. Abraaj is committed
to creating the region's largest dedicated platform to support
entrepreneurship and innovation within the high-growth economies of the MENA


    Founder and CEO of Riyada Ventures, Khaldoon Tabaza said:
"Abraaj's groundbreaking initiative in the SME and entrepreneurship space
will be a positive inflexion point in the development of high-impact,
high-growth ventures in the MENA region. We are honoured and delighted to be part of the Abraaj success story."

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