500 Startups announces $30M MENA fund

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Silicon Valley-based venture firm 500 Startups announced this week their $30 million fund for MENA startups.

The fund, aptly entitled ‘500 Falcons’ to reflect the Arabic cultural appreciation of the bird of prey, will focus on seed stage investments between $50,000 and $100,000.

Their plan is to invest in 100 to 200 companies in ecommerce and marketplaces, video and Arabic content, SaaS, mobile, fintech, hardware and IoT.

The fund will be led by Hasan Haider (below with 500 Startups's Dave McClure), a long standing mover and shaker of the Bahraini entrepreneur investment scene.

Hasan Haider and Dave McClure
Dave McClure and Hasan Haider. (Image via 500 Startups)

In a statement released on the 500 Startups site, Haider said they had a plan to do follow-on investments of up to “$500,000 in the top 20-30 percent of our companies, with potential additional capital from our main global fund in selected deals”.

Back in November Haider wrote that while a lot of effort had gone into building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, there was still room for improvement when it came to funding it.

“Most economies in the MENA region are dominated by the government and large companies, and in the face of a demographic shift, we see an opportunity for this to change.”

A 500 Startups Partner since October 20014, Haider wrote that the fund would also soon include venture partners in other MENA geographies.  

To date 500 Startups has over 30 existing investments in MENA (including Jamalon, Tamatem, Wuzzuf, Fetchr, Edfa3ly, and Shopgo). Their first investment was made in 2012 with Jeeran, an Amman-based reviews platform.

500 Startups are also currently on their Geeks on a Plane tour, now in Amman, Jordan until December 11. They will then be at Cairo’s RiseUp Summit until December 15.

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