A new chapter

I’ve been working in the VC space in emerging markets for the past 12 years. I have been fortunate enough to have had a front row seat to some of these markets’ greatest successes, but I have also seen the very challenges and struggles faced by founders and entrepreneurs in our markets.

Across the MENA, VC as a per cent of GDP remains one of the lower in the world, including other emerging markets. And in order to scale effectively, entrepreneurs must grow their businesses across multiple markets.

Unfortunately, the above realities have meant that as VCs, we have become complacent. It is far too easy for us to sit back and pick winners and losers and drive very little value to the entrepreneurs that we invest in.

As we set out to create a new venture firm, we wanted to rethink, redefine and re-imagine the relationship between capital and founders and create a new founder centric model.

We want to define ourselves by how we serve our key stakeholder — the entrepreneurs that we invest in, and we will do so as follows:

The Nuwa network of founders

We’ve built a network of some of the most accomplished founders in the region. Hosam Arab from Namshi.com, Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury of Maktoob, Souq and Jabbar Internet Group, Rabea Ataya of Bayt.com and Nour Al Hasan of Tarjama.

These founders are aligned and incentivized within the new fund to dedicate some of their time to supporting, guiding and mentoring the companies that Nuwa Capital will invest in.

Operating partners

Beyond strategic guidance from the Nuwa Network, another key aspect is hands-on domain expertise. We have created a group of operating partners that are subject matter experts in areas that are critical for startups:
1. Technology
2. Product
3. Growth hacking/marketing
4. Recruitment
5. Fundraising
6. Legal support

These operating partners are also attached to the fund and help support the development of the underlying portfolio companies and serve some of their key needs within this area.

True partnership with entrepreneurs

We hear a lot about how VCs are “partners” to the entrepreneurs, beyond adding value through the above, we want to put our money where our mouth is.

As such we will be sharing some of our upside or carried interest with every single founder that we invest in. We will do so because we believe in cementing these partnerships. So as these founders grow and exit themselves they, in turn, become part of the Nuwa network and help support rising founders.

Corporate partnership

We will also unlock the value of our corporate partner and anchor investor Al Faisaliah Group in helping to scale and accelerate the growth of our companies in the verticals they operate in and in KSA in particular.

The other defining features of Nuwa is a commitment to being in multiple markets and to focus on thesis driven investing. Details of which we will be sharing.

To demonstrate the power of this, collectively the team and the network is by far the most accomplished grouping of founders and venture investors in the region. Together, we have screened over 5,000 companies in emerging market and invested in or founded over 200 disruptive businesses. All of which has helped generate over $5 billion worth of exit value in emerging markets.

That includes the region’s four largest exits: Careem, Souq, Namshi and Maktoob.


Khaled Talhouni

Khaled is managing partner at Nuwa Capital.

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