Kuwait’s Zain Group has invested in Wamda Capital’s growth stage venture fund. Wamda Capital, which is aiming to raise up to $75 million, will provide long-term funding for early and growth stage technology companies in the MENA region that have the potential to grow quickly. Anchor investors of the fund include the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The agreement between Zain and Wamda Capital was finalised during the World Economic Forum, which took place on the banks of the Dead Sea. Zain was the Strategic Associate Partner of the Forum.
The Fund’s core strategy is to work with entrepreneurs to build businesses and ensure access to capital at early stages of a venture to fuel growth. Beyond financial investment, Wamda Capital offers support through mentorship, access to markets, networks, and clients, as well as cross-border operational support.
Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group, said: “Zain is becoming an active participant in this new digital age and by investing in venture capital funds that have an enviable track record of success across the region, reconfirms our intention to enhance the power of innovation through supporting aspiring and talented entrepreneurs. At the same, we aim to leverage and establish strategic collaborations with, or even equity investment in these start-ups, creating value for all our stakeholders.”
Emre Gurkan, Zain Group’s chief strategy and business development officer, said: “Wamda Capital will invest in early- and growth-stage entities from across the region that are dedicated to building the region’s most innovative technology companies. Our goal is to capitalize on the most promising B2B and digital ideas that can bring synergies to Zain and which can impact operations or revenues in Zain’s core business. This includes bringing unique and life-empowering digital products and services to Zain’s individual and corporate customers.”
“Seed money serves as a catalyst as evidenced by some of the success stories of those companies that were able to access capital in the Arab world, an environment that has traditionally shied away from supporting SMEs”, said Fadi Ghandour, Chairman and Managing Partner of Wamda Capital. “We believe MENA could produce the next Silicon Valley if entrepreneurs are given the right support to help them grow and expand."
This investment in Wamda Capital by Zain further 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 valuation and customer service offerings. ZDFI focuses on the areas of innovation; digital services; corporate venturing; and smart cities.