Nama Ventures launches $27 million fund to invest in Mena startups

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Source: Arabian Business

The nearly $27 million fund will be raised from high-net-worth-individuals, family offices, and institutional investors and will support pre-seed and seed-stage start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on those in Saudi Arabia

Nama Ventures, a Saudi Arabia-focused venture capital firm, is set to raise SAR100 million ($26.7 million) to beef up its investment fund, as the pandemic has created a spike in tech start-ups in the country.

The fund will be raised from a host of high net worth individuals (HNIs), family offices, and institutional investors.

“The fund, which is already launched, is expected to be closed soon,” Abdullah Alaraj, managing partner of Nama Ventures, told Arabian Business in an exclusive interview.

“Besides HNIs and family offices, we are also talking to sovereign funds in the region [for participation in this fund],” Alaraj revealed.

Nama Ventures, a backer of two unicorns, is set to invest in pre-seed and seed-stage start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with a focus on Saudi Arabia.

“Part of the fund will also be invested in some of the Silicon Valley based ventures, where we enjoy great syndication partners and proprietary access,” said Alaraj, who has an impressive track record of investing in more than 20 start-ups across the US, the UK, South America, India and Saudi Arabia.

Alaraj, an academic-turned-investor, and his partner in Nama Ventures, Mohammed Alzubi, an engineer-turned-investor, are both Silicon Valley veterans and have seeded start-ups themselves in the past.

Alaraj said Nama Ventures so far has been very successful because of its philosophy of startup investments based on certain differentiators.

“For instance, we invest in teams and do not back solo [run] start-ups. It's our most important criteria,” Alaraj, who is also a co-founder and chairman of Riyadh Angel Investors, a Riyadh-based angel network.

“Nama Ventures prides itself on being an investment fund committed to nurturing ideas that guide founders to create exceptional companies.

“We also want to lead start-ups, along with their founders, helping the ventures to grow from a seed to a forest, rolling up our sleeves and pruning them to realize and reach their full growth potential,” said Alaraj, who holds a Ph.D. in computer sciences and is a member of the UK Business Angel Association.

“Our fund is focused on fuelling technology innovation in MENA, particularly in KSA,” Alaraj said.

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