UK's Hambro Perks launches $50m fund to invest in Mena's early stage start-ups

The Oryx Fund has received backing from PIF-owned Jada Fund of Funds among others

FG81FD View of new business district at Abu Dhabi Global Market square (ADGM) on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. Alamy
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Hambro Perks, a London-based investment firm, achieved the first close of a new $50 million venture fund focused on technology investments in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Oryx fund will be domiciled in Abu Dhabi Global Market and has received backing from Jada Fund of Funds (owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund), the Saudi Venture Capital Company and Riyadh Valley Company, among others.

“There is a wealth of talented entrepreneurs developing innovative businesses and we are excited about partnering with them to help them develop their ideas and scale their companies," Dominic Perks, co-founder and chief executive of Hambro Perks, said in a statement.

He will be one of the fund's three general partners alongside managing director Ali Qaiser and Ivo Detelinoc, who joins from the Riyad Taqnia Fund. The company will operate from bases at Hub71 in Abu Dhabi and in Riyadh.

Interest from venture capital investors in the Middle East is picking up following a number of high-profile successful exits, such as Careem's $3.1 billion sale to Uber, which concluded in January last year. A Mena Venture Investor Ranking report published by Magnitt earlier this week found that 25 per cent of all investors into regional companies last year were based outside the region. Of the 256 active investors deploying a total of $1bn last year, 11 per cent were based in the US and 7 per cent in the European Economic Area.

“Despite Covid-19, we saw continued interest from international investors and new funds investing in Mena-based start-ups," Philip Bahoshy, Magnitt's founder and chief executive, said. He expects to see increased investment in the region "as the ecosystem continues to mature".

Hambro Perks runs a number of funds and focuses on strategies including venture and secondary venture deals, environmental technology and special situations. It has already made an investment into the region, backing UAE robo-advisory platform Sarwa in its $8.4m Series A funding round in January last year.

“Our investment in the Oryx fund underlines our belief in the strong potential of venture capital in Saudi [Arabia]. There is real talent within the Saudi start-up community, and the Hambro Perks Oryx team is an experienced investor in the sector," Al Jada Fund of Funds chief executive Adel Alateeq said.

”The growth in local VC activities has significantly increased in recent years and Saudi start-ups were able to attract funding despite the coronavirus pandemic," Khalid Al-Saleh, chief executive of Riyadh Valley Company, said. "Our investment in Oryx fund is directed to further support the entrepreneurship scene in Saudi Arabia and bridge the gap in pre-seed and seed stage funding."