Palestinian fund Ibtikar has raised a new round of investments worth $2.5 million in what is being seen as good news for early-stage Palestinian startups.
With this closing, Ibtikar increases its capital to $10.45 million, enhancing its ability to invest in more local startups over the upcoming years.
The round marks the first investment in Palestinian venture capital by active investors on the global scene as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) came on as participants in this round.
For DGGF, this is the first venture capital investment in MENA, whereas it’s the second time for the IFC under its new Startup Catalyst program.
Ibtikar (“Innovation” in Arabic) Fund is managed by Habib Hazzan and Ambar Amleh, and a Board chaired by Hashim Shawa, chairman and general manager of the Bank of Palestine, and including Zahi Khouri, chairman and CEO of the National Beverage Company.
Hazzan said he sees the new investments as a validation of the hard work carried out by the fund over the last two years, as well as a vote of confidence in its management.
The move is a big deal for Palestinian startups, as it proves that institutional investors are now starting to see the opportunity of investing in them.
Raising a second fund would also come easily and on a much bigger scale, since these institutional investors require solid governance and oversight.
The money will enable Ibtikar to embark copious investments in more companies and drive their capacity as they grow.
“Our investment in Ibtikar is well aligned with our creating markets campaign in the entrepreneurship space, which we started few years ago,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa.
“The lack of funding for startups in MENA in general, and the Palestinian Territories in particular, is a major challenge. This investment will help Ibtikar continue its very impressive journey in financing and supporting startups that are in need of capital.”
Since its inception in May 2016, Ibtikar has made as many as 14 investments in Palestinian ventures, putting together an all-star portfolio that caught the eye of investors at regional and global level.
Among the stand-outs is Mashvisor, a real estate investment analytics company that has recently joined the prestigious 500 Startups program in Silicon Valley.
The fund seeks indeed innovation-minded and highly-skilled Palestinian entrepreneurs, from both within and outside Palestine, with a broad range of talents to tap into.
However, the overwhelming majority of the operations of the companies supported is expected to be located in Palestine.