UAE: New angel investor group targets impact investments in Muslim countries

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

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”.

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)

Press Release

Forty impact driven angel investors launch Falcon Network

Falcon Network members have committed to investing a minimum of $50,000 within the next two years

  • The first round of signed commitments, totaling over USD 2 million, will allow the Network to connect investors with successful entrepreneurs.
  • Investment requests can range up to USD 500,000 and applications first round of funding will open on the 1st of December 2018

DUBAI—A group of emerging markets-based investors have today announced the launch of Falcon Network, an angel investment network targeting the growing entrepreneurial ecosystems emerging in key growth markets and cities such as Dubai, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, and Jakarta, amongst others.

Launched at the sidelines of the 4th Global Islamic Economy Summit, an international forum held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Network includes senior executives working in both the public and private sector across the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. Some highlights include: Talal Yassine, Managing Director, Crescent Wealth; Junaid Wahedna, Founder, Wahed Invest; Nida Raza, Head of Investment Banking, Bank of Khartoum International; Zohaib Patel, Managing Director, Gulf Bridge Capital; Ashar Nazim, CEO, Waqfe; Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, Responsible Finance and Investment Foundation (RFI Foundation).

Falcon Network members have committed to investing a minimum of USD 50,000 within the next two years.

The Network has already established strategic partnerships with business incubators and accelerators in its target markets to source investment opportunities.

The Network’s initial focus will be on regions where funding for impact driven start-ups is limited including Cairo, Dubai, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore and Lagos amongst others. Ticket sizes will vary but initially proposals under USD 500,000 will be considered. The startups applying to join the Network must have at least reached Proof-of-Concept level maturity. The Network will remain sector agnostic. For the first round, start-up can apply from December 1st 2018 onwards.

Rachid Ouaich, Co-founder of the Network and Co-founder, ConexCap said, “Establishing a business, especially in emerging markets, requires exceptional discipline and determination. I have witnessed many entrepreneurs fail due to a lack of guidance and the challenge of fundraising. The launch of the Network is exciting news – not only does this initiative match strategic capital with high impact investment opportunities, but also provide much-needed mentorship to budding entrepreneurs.”

Peter Gould, Co-founder of the Network and Design Executive Officer, Zileej added, ”We established the Network for the new generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs, emerging in cities such as Cairo, Dubai, Jeddah, and Jakarta that are creating ventures that seek to not only generate strong financial returns, but also solve pressing societal problems. There is a clear need in these regions to connect impact-focused individual investors with purpose-driven entrepreneurs. This is what we hope to achieve.”