500 Startups, a globally-focused venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, announced that it has held a first close for its MENA-focused fund last week. The 500 Startups MENA fund, which is also known as 500 Falcons, landed $15 million of the $30 million it is targeting for investment in early-stage startups in the MENA region.
Among the LPs making commitments to the fund’s first close are the Oman Investment Fund and the Qatar Science and Technology Park. According to 500 Startups, about 50% of the fund will be invested in between 100 and 150 companies, with the balance of the fund held for follow-on investment in the top 20% of the portfolio. In addition to companies in the region, the fund will consider deals from founders drawn from the MEAN diaspora as well as non-MENA founders building companies that are targeting the region.
The fund will be headed by Hasan Haider who, according to his LinkedIn profile, joined 500 Startups as a Venture Partner in October 2016 to spearhead the company’s operations and expansion in the MENA region. He is being joined by Sharif El-Badawi, a former Googler who’s been working at 500 Startups as a Venture Partner since February 2016, as a Partner in the Fund. The firm is actively recruiting for additional people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, key markets for the fund.
The fund is 500 Startups’ first fund dedicated to the Arab world, although the firm has been investing in the MENA region since 2011, investing some $6 million in 55 deals for 32 companies.