Today Ibtikar Fund announces its first investments in eight Palestinian startups during its official launch ceremony in Ramallah, Palestine. Ibtikar Fund is a disruptive fund that invests in innovative Palestinian companies at their earliest stages. 10 million USD have been dedicated to the Ibtikar Fund, and will be used to provide financial support, as well as active support from Ibtikar’s management team to skilled Palestinian entrepreneurs, from both within and outside Palestine.
What makes Ibtikar Fund special is that its investors aren’t doing it just for the money; they truly want to play a part in establishing Palestinian success stories. During the ceremony, Mr. Hashim Shawa, Chairman and General Manager of the Bank of Palestine, the anchor investor for the fund, was proud to announce that 80 percent of the fund’s investors are Palestinian, either residing in Palestine or in the diaspora. He explained, “investors are not only supporting financially, but also look forward to supporting the startups through their expertise and networks throughout the world.”
In addition to the Bank of Palestine, Ibtikar Fund investors include corporate investors, such as, Sharakat for Small and Mid-Size Investments Company, the Arab Palestinian Investment (Holding) Company, and business leaders including Farouk Shami, Qais Abdullah Al Ghanim, Zahi Khouri, Samer Khoury, Ibrahim Barham, Fadi Ghandour, George Salem, Eddie Farah, Emad Jaber and Riad Kamal. Additionally, Taawon supports Ibtikar companies through its fund expert advisors.
Ibtikar looks for ideas and start-ups that are scalable and that serve a MENA region or global need. So far, it has found the following 8 Palestinian start-ups which meet that profile, and is currently in negotiation with other potential start-ups.
- Mashvisor: an online platform that automates and analyzes nationwide real estate data to empower investors to find traditional and Airbnb investment properties and optimize their rental performance.
- Fadfid: an online platform to facilitate the connection between customers and licensed psychologists from around the Middle East.
- Wirez: a promotional marketplace where freelance journalists and filmmakers can share and sell their video work, and where interested media publishers and outlets can buy stories to fulfill their coverage needs.
- ArabiAuto: an Arabic-language car portal, providing content, videos, and information for car owners and enthusiasts.
- Tasameem: an online marketplace specialized in graphic design for individuals and small businesses, with a specific focus on the Arab market, where graphic designers can upload their designs, and customers can browse available designs, customize designs, and tender new designs.
- Worknizer: a website that provides a space to organize files, notes, links, and to-do lists, all in one place and through one account, making them available anytime, anywhere.
- 5QHQH: a social web and mobile app that allows users to easily create and share jokes, comics, and other humor. It received more than 30,000 visitors in the first few weeks after its launch.
- Masari: a cloud-based accounting program targeting micro and small enterprises in the MENA region, allowing them to easily manage their cash flows, issue invoices and view their historical financial data.
Ibtikar’ supports its start-ups in two stages- seed and early stage. “Ibtikar’s investments begin at the seed level through local accelerators, continue in post-acceleration phases and can also include Series A investments in its portfolio companies”, explained Mr. Habib Hazzan, Ibtikar’s Managing General Partner in his opening speech during the ceremony. He also said, “Ibtikar is closing a critical funding gap between acceleration and other later-stage investors already in Palestine, a stage where many good startups failed due to lack of funding and support.”
Peter Abualzolof, CEO of Mashvisor, one of Ibtikar’s first early-growth-stage investments, has recently said, “Ibtikar is an extension of our team. Not only have they funded our start-up, they work on providing us with services, connections, and much more based on our needs and requests.”
Ibtikar investors don’t view themselves as the typical investor who provides funds, sits back and waits for returns. Its management team, CEO Habib Hazzan, senior advisor Marcelo Diaz (a Palestinian based in Chile), and chief operating officer Ambar Amleh, “meet at least an hour a week with each start-up – helping them work through challenges, providing advice, and opening doors for them.”
Ibtikar investors‘ dedication towards creating Palestinian success stories, was best stated by Mr. Nassim Nour, Managing Director of Sharakat Fund, one of Ibtikar’s corporate investors. During the ceremony, he explained “Sharakat’s investment in Ibtikar is a translation of Palestine Investment Fund’s vision for investing in the emerging entrepreneurial young generation of Palestine. We are proud of Ibtikar, and of its management and partners, being the Palestinian vehicle that will take the creative ideas of our Palestinian youth and turn them into viable and vibrant businesses at both local and international levels.”
Ibtikar’s management team evaluates Palestinian companies based on their vision, their ability to succeed, the scalability of their business models, and their response to local market needs with high-growth opportunities, either at the MENA-region level or globally. So if you are a Palestinian entrepreneur who believes your idea meets Ibtikar’s standards, then go ahead and approach them here. You never know, Ibtikar may choose to make your Palestinian dream become a reality!
To get involved and for more information, visit Ibtikar’s website: www.ibtikarfund.com.
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