Dubai International Financial Centre has (DIFC) launched a $100 million fund to invest in financial technology startups.
The fund will focus on companies in the incubation and growth stages looking to access markets in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.
It will also link to the zone’s experimental licenses for fintech companies, shared spaces and other concepts including an accelerator program.
The fund was announced by the governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre, Essa Kazim, during his introductory address at the DIFC’s inaugural Global Financial Forum event on Tuesday morning.
Kazim said the fund would help to establish “startup and growth-stage fintech firms looking for access to the MEASA (Middle East, Africa, and South Asia) markets.”
“The fund will leverage the DIFC’s fintech ecosystem consisting of attractive experimental licenses, market-leading pricing, and collaborative spaces,” he said.
In a separate media briefing, Kazim added that the $100 million fund would be “fully supported by DIFC, but we don’t mind having other entities—mainly government, semi-government entities—to participate in this fund.”
He said that it was not looking to leverage the fund with external bank finance, but that it has been in talks with federal and local government departments to broaden involvement in the fund.
It is currently managed solely by DIFC, but if other entities become involved, the fund could be separately maintained.
In the meantime, Kazim said that the fund “is set up, it’s there, it’s supported by our own internal resources.”
We are ready to spend money, but it depends on the opportunities,” he added, stating that investments would be commercially-driven.
Kazim said that he did not expect the fund to be the sole source of investment into target companies and that the size of investments would depend on the requirements of individual firms.
“It’s $100 million, so you would be thinking of…. not $1 billion in Uber, it’s not that. It’s really to support the startups, the smaller sized companies.
“Some companies probably need around $50,000, and some maybe need $1 million or $2 million.”
In August, DIFC launched its Fintech Hive—an accelerator aimed at helping financial technology companies to grow by offering them access to finance and expertise.
The first cycle of the accelerator, involving 11 firms, completed earlier this week.