Arab Business Angels Network closes first three investment deals in Middle East

Published May 5th, 2008 - 12:48 GMT

Arab Business Angels Network closes first three investment deals in Middle East
Seed capital fund mobilises investments to help entrepreneurs overcome equity gap

Arab Business Angels Network (ABAN), a pioneering seed capital fund in the Middle East and a member of Dubai International Capital (DIC), has announced today (Monday, May 5, 2008) during a ceremony at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), that it has launched its first three investments in the Middle East, in a move that seeks to fill the existing equity gap faced by promising entrepreneurs and investors.
The launch of the new investments was concurrently held alongside the 'ABAN Workshop for Entrepreneurs and Investors' and the 'ABAN 2nd Matchmaking Event', which were held from May 4-5, 2008, also at DIFC. The workshop and matchmaking event were initiated by ABAN to enhance the business know-how of budding investors and entrepreneurs, and to significantly improve their chances of obtaining substantial seed funding.
"Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy. They help sustain the country's revenues and play a significant role in generating new sources of income, which is essentially what we need in order to move the regional economy forward. ABAN has been leveraging its global partnerships and high-profile connections, particularly as we are a member of Dubai International Capital, to optimise our investments and reach out to more promising entrepreneurs.  As such, we have intensified our drive to encourage new investor members to join our Angels network," said Walid Hanna, CEO, Arab Business Angels Network.
ABAN, which was established by the Young Arab Leaders during the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2005, with DIC as its founder and lead institutional investor, invests through two main investment vehicles: a USD 10 million seed capital fund and USD 5 million fund for women-led ventures targeting regional start-up companies; and through ABAN's network of investor members, who invest with ABAN's assistance in high-potential early stage ventures.
The three early-stage ventures that have secured seed funding commitments from ABAN are HAYATI, which shall provide consumer finance for the healthcare industry in the UAE and KSA; I-level, which offers unique shopper marketing consultancy and solutions in the GCC and Levant; and PinPay, which will develop, deploy and operate an array of wireless payment services out of Lebanon and Egypt. Two of the three start-ups secured ABAN's approval after a successful presentation during the first ABAN Matchmaking Event in February 2008.
Michael Matly, Chairman and CEO, HAYATI commented: "We at HAYATI are extremely excited with the ABAN partnership, the first pioneering seed capital fund in Dubai.  While there is a great deal of liquidity in the market, very little capital is being directed at entrepreneurs at the early stages. Google, Apple and Cisco all started with a seed capital investment and are now some of the largest companies in the world, creating jobs and real value for the economy and shareholders. ABAN understands this, and I am excited about growing this exciting venture together, creating innovation in the region," added Matly.
Meanwhile, ABAN gathered a powerful line-up of international speakers who provided a detailed insight into business development and investment during the workshop; while the Matchmaking Event also featured high-potential start-ups presenting their businesses before ABAN and other prospective investors.
The start-ups that conducted presentations of their businesses included, an Arabic search engine and editor; lifestyle coaching firm L.U.C.; Sphere Networks, a network management solutions company; and Sindibad, a new online Arabic business magazine. ABAN has stipulated that innovation in business plans is its main criteria for start-ups in the GCC, as it seeks to enrich and diversify the regional economy away from the realms of oil and real estate.
ABAN's average holding period will be four years as it plans to exit these investments with a high return. ABAN is also interested in various investment opportunities in the Levant and North Africa, particularly in businesses that help create a knowledge-based economy. The company is now working on four new investments in the MENA region, which will be announced within a few months.
Sameer Al Ansari, Executive Chairman and CEO of DIC commented: "DIC is pleased to support the development of the Arab Business Angels Network (ABAN) which is dedicated to promoting seed capital as a new, yet increasingly essential asset class in the Arab world. Through our support of such an initiative, DIC is able to contribute to our region's economic development by promoting entrepreneurship and funding innovative start-up businesses. These young businesses, in turn, have the potential to grow and positively impact the regional economy by creating new employment opportunities for the region's talent." 

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