Tag Archives: MENA

Middle East Venture Partners’ new fund

Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) yesterday announced their $250M VC fund focused on investing in startups in MENA and Turkey. This makes it the region’s largest non-corporate VC fund and second largest VC fund following Saudi Telecom’s $500M venture fund ST Ventures.

The large fund size is enabled by MEVP’s partnership at the general partner level with Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, in May of this year.

Given the large fund size, MEVP is likely to focus on larger transactions beyond the seed and series A stages, and increasingly in the Series B and C stages. In Turkey specifically, the availability of capital in the latter stages is lower than that in the former stages, so this move makes strategic sense for investments in Turkey. I imagine that the same holds true for the MENA region.

I had the opportunity to work with the MEVP team following their co-investments in Turkish female fashion marketplace Modacruz and Istanbul’s inner city ridesharing app Volt, and congratulate the team on their new fund.

Turkey and MENA startup funding in 2016

In a post from October, I shared how the Turkish startup ecosystem is on track to receive north of $65M in funding in 2016. According to startups.watch, the actual figure turned out to be around $63M. This doesn’t include a very large round which has yet to be announced. If included, the figure rises to around $80M.

In comparison, the Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) leading tech news website Wamda recently shared that startups from the MENA region received over $815M of funding in 2016. This is over 10X the funding received by Turkish startups.

However, MENA consists of 20 countries rather than 1 so a direct comparison isn’t correct.

A better way to look at the difference is in terms of population. 424 million people live in MENA, in contrast to 79 million in Turkey. This factor of 5.4X is much smaller than the greater than 10X difference in the funding received by MENA startups relative to those in Turkey.

Another way to compare MENA and Turkey’s startup funding levels is as a share of each region’s GDP. $80M is ~0.011% of Turkey’s $718B GDP while $815M is 0.026% of MENA’s $3.141T GDP.

In other words, no matter how you look at it, MENA startup funding in 2016 was well ahead of that of Turkey.

How Turkey can become an integral part of the MENA region

I participated in a panel entitled “How Turkey can become an integral part of the MENA region” at the Step conference in Dubai a few months ago. The panel was hosted by Khaled Talhouni from Wamda Capital, and the other panelists were Kerim Ture from Modanisa, Hande Cilingir from Insider, and Numan Numan from 212.

In the half hour session, we cover a wide range of topics including:

  1. How MENA funds can invest in Turkish startups and vice versa
  2. The challenges faced by Turkish startups when expanding to MENA
  3. The similarities and differences between the MENA and Turkey startup ecosystems

You can watch the full video below.