The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed an agreement to invest USD 11.3 million in Sawari Ventures Fund, a regional venture capital fund investing in growth and seed stage innovative businesses in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. The EIB investment is the first commitment to a venture capital fund focused on Egypt. It will contribute to the modernisation of the economy by encouraging entrepreneurship, in line with the EU-Egyptian Partnership Priorities. Moreover, it is the first EIB operation under the Risk Capital Facility of the Economic Resilience Initiative.
Via the fund, the EIB will provide access to needed risk capital to support early and growth stage innovative start-ups and SMEs in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco that have the potential to scale rapidly and grow regionally boosting the local tech ecosystem. Furthermore, by investing in seed stage companies through a local accelerator, the EIB investment will contribute to knowledge transfer, and enhanced competitiveness of innovative sectors. The support provided to local SMEs and dynamic start-ups is expected to contribute to economic growth, increase economic resilience and create opportunities, especially for youth.
The EIB is a cornerstone investor in the fund that reached a first closing of USD 35 million. Other investors in the fund include CDC (UK), Proparco (France) and DGGF (Netherlands). The fund has a target size of USD 50 million.
The EIB will crowd-in additional local capital in the fund through the creation of an Egypt based co-investment vehicle, which will support, alongside Sawari, Egyptian investments and will include local financial and public institutions.
“We are proud to invest in Sawari Ventures Fund which will provide smart finance to innovative startups and high growth companies. We are confident that Egyptian technology startups can play an important role in creating jobs and modernising the Egyptian economy thanks to their great ideas and high growth potentials.” commented Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank on the signature.
“We are convinced that equity investment in knowledge economy companies is a huge untapped opportunity in North Africa, and we are excited that top tier DFIs like EIB, CDC, DGGF and Proparco share that vision with us.” said Wael Amin, partner at Sawari Ventures.
Sawari is a leading venture capital firm based in Cairo and is among the pioneers of developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt. It established the GrEEK Campus (tech hub), Flat6Labs (seed stage investment vehicle) and Sawari Ventures, one of the first venture capital firm in Egypt.
The EIB investment is funded under the Bank’s Economic Resilience Initiative Risk Capital Facility (ERI RCF). The facility seeks to foster private sector development and job creation through investments in venture capital and private equity funds. It blends EIB own resources with donors resources from the ERI Fund to unlock more opportunities for the private sector in the southern Mediterranean region. The ERI RCF benefits from a donor-funded first loss protection provided under the ERI Fund. To date eight EU Member States (Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Poland, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the UK) have made pledges for the ERI Fund to support the EIB’s operations that could not be implemented with the use of own resources only, due to their risk profile or needs for concessional financing.
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