500 Startups Closes MENA Fund At $15 Million, Ready To Fund New Startups- Valutrics

500 Startups, Mountain View, California-based early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator, is closing its MENA-focused fund 500 Falcons at $15 million, against a target of $30 million.

The fun was earlier targeting to raise $30 million.

While 500 Startups has been investing in the MENA region since 2011, including 55 deals in 32 companies for a total of $6 million, this is its first fund focused entirely on the Arab world, said Hassan Haidar, managing director of 500 Startups’ MENA fund 500 Falcons.

With the new fund, the venture fund plans to invest in approximately 100-150 firms with about half of the fund and reserve the other half for follow-on investments in the top 20% of companies, Haidar said.

The fund will focus on early-stage startups in the MENA region, MENA diaspora founders and non-MENA founders targeting MENA, he added.

Sharif El-Badawi—chairman of TechWadi, a non-profit entity bridging MENA entrepreneurs with Silicon Valley— has joined 500 Falcons as a partner.

Badawi previously worked with Google.

The VC fund is recruiting other members for the team in the region, with plans to have people on the ground in its key MENA markets including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund with over $275 million in committed capital.

It invests small amounts of money in hundreds of young technology companies around the world. It has invested in nearly 1,600 technology startups since inception in 2010.

In November 2016, Ramallah-based real estate analytics platform Mashvisor was chosen for the 19th round of acceleration at 500 Startups, becoming the first Palestinian startup to join the global venture fund.

The online platform automates and analyzes nationwide real estate data to empower investors to find traditional and short-term investment properties and optimize their rental performance.

In September, 500 Startups signed a pact with Qatar Foundation (QF) to enhance innovation in the MENA region.

Through the partnership, the two organizations will provide seed funding, training, and mentorship to startups across the region over the next five years.

In October, it took part in a $800,000 seed round in Dubai-based productivity startup Wrappup which was led by BECO Capital.

In July, it put an undisclosed amount as an investment in UAE-based online gift shop Joi.

Prior to that, in May, 500 Startups participated in a $4 million Series A round in ReserveOut, a Dubai-based online restaurant reservations platform.