Venture capital: more to come for GCC start-ups

The GCC’s tech entrepreneur sector has grown ten-fold over the past four years, thanks to the development of the region’s venture capital ecosystem, according to Dany Farha, the chief executive of Dubai’s technology focused Beco Capital.

However, he stressed that more angel investment is required to support the region’s start-up tech firms, together with incubators and accelerator programmes to support their growth and development.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s STEP conference in Dubai, Mr Farha said the development of the region’s venture capital ecosystem had enabled to Beco to scale up the number of investments in tech firms at the seed capital stage.

“We saw our deal flow grow exponentially year-on-year for the past four years, so we scaled our raising and deployment in parallel with the growth in start-up activity,” said Mr Farha.

“The same needs to happen at the angel investment stage so the whole value chain is working together to be appropriately funded, otherwise it will reach a bottleneck.”

Beco Capital’s technology investments in the past four years include the real estate website, the internet taxi firm Careem and the online market place JadoPado.

The firm’s most recent investment, announced last month, is in the Beirut cyber-security start-up myki, athe developer of a secure password and online identity manager.

“At the moment, we see funding in the middle of the chain at the micro-VC [venture capital], VC and private equity levels,” said Mr Farha.

“More needs to be done at the angel, incubator and accelerator level, and entrepreneurs must lead this revolution. We ought to ensure that there is enough support for innovation in start-ups.”

Mr Farha noted last month that the region’s more challenging economic conditions in the wake of falling oil prices are unlikely to impede growth within the technology sector.

“History has proved that a weak economy spurs entrepreneurship and innovation,” he noted. “There is no better time to fund SMEs and entrepreneurs than in a downturn.”

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