Zain Group has inked its first foray in venture capital investment through a participation in Middle East Venture Partners’ (MEVP) latest fund. The Dubai based MEVF II fund will invest in early stage technology companies with proven traction in the MENA region and will focus its investment on three verticals: Web and mobile digital plays; e-marketplaces; and B2B companies.
This investment by Zain builds on the establishment of the Zain Digital Frontier and Innovation (ZDFI) business unit in 2014, which is charged with launching Zain into the digital space with the view to growing the company through new innovative business streams that add to Zain’s customer service offerings. ZDFI focuses on the areas of innovation; digital services; corporate venturing; and smart cities.
Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said: “By investing in MEVP’s latest fund, Zain is increasing its exposure to the digital economy and becoming an active participant in this new digital age. We believe there is significant growth potential for digitally-focused companies and this investment showcases our intention to remain at the forefront of innovation.”
Emre Gurkan, Zain group chief strategy and business development officer said: “MEVP’s fund will invest in promising Arab entrepreneurs dedicated to building the region’s best technology companies, and we aim to leverage the development of these start-ups in several ways, which include Zain bringing unique and life-enriching digital products and services to its customers.”
Walid Hanna, founder and managing partner of MEVP said: “Our portfolio companies will be thrilled to know that telecom operators, with Zain at the forefront, are finally investing and becoming actively involved in MENA’s digital start-up scene. Most of our portfolio companies are looking to leverage telecom operators’ infrastructure and customer base to activate new markets and scale, and so the synergies expected are significant with Zain.”