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|30 October, 2018

Spreading their wings: New angel investor group targets impact investments in Muslim countries

The Falcon Network will offer between $100,000-$500,000 to start-ups

The wind blows dust as a man sits near a mosque behind Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, November 29, 2009.

The wind blows dust as a man sits near a mosque behind Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, November 29, 2009.

REUTERS/Steve Crisp

A new group of 40-plus angel investors have banded together to create The Falcon Network, which is looking to invest in start-ups in the Muslim world.

The network was launched at the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.

Sayd Farook, an advisor to the UAE’s vice president and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and one of the group’s founders, said that the network - which he said will enjoy the backing of the government of the United Arab Emirates - aims to attract entrepreneurs who are seeking to make an “impact” and create solutions for “real issues”.

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Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both positioning themselves as entrepreneurial hubs, giving entrepreneurs from different parts of the world access to a wide range of incubators, accelerator programmes and investment opportunities.

The Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), which measures the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in 137 countries including all 22 Arab states, states that the UAE’s entrepreneurial strengths are networking, an ability to develop new products and to integrate new technologies.

Its weakest areas are the current strength of its technology sector, ability to absorb new technologies and the skills base within start-ups.

The index, which was created by the London-based Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, formed part of the 2018 Arab Competitiveness Report released in August, which was co-authored by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

The Falcon Network’s founders said that the first applications for entrepreneurs seeking funding will open on December 1. The Network is looking to raise at least $50,000 from each angel investor, to create a $2 million funding pot in two years.

The Network will take equity shares of 10 to 20 percent in investee companies.

Farook said that the investment ticket sizes will range between $100,000- $500,000. 

He argued that the network’s edge, which would make it stand out, is specialisation in early stage investments and “making sure that they (the entrepreneurs) start off right”, which he sees a gap in in the UAE.

“The angels are from everywhere,” Farook said. “We have from Malaysia, we have many from here, many from Europe: France, Belgium,” he added.

A press release announcing the launch said that the network’s investors include Nida Raza, head of investment banking at the Bank of Khartoum International; Zohaib Patel, managing director of Dubai-based venture capital, Gulf Bridge Capital; and Ashar Nazim, CEO of Waqfe, a digital banking platform that operates within the GCC region.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Michael Fahy)

(yasmine.saleh@refinitiv.com)


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© ZAWYA 2018