Culture and Growth

The last couple of years, it seems, have witnessed a certain coming of age of the tech ecosystem in MENA, with founders moving on to their next ventures, operators launching their own companies, and a lot of movement within support organizations. Exits such as those of Careem and Mumzworld are bound to create trailblazing founder ‘mafias’ of their own, who will go on to launch the next Careem’s and Mumzworld’s of the region. Others will take on leadership positions in similar fast-growing companies and leverage their unique expertise to grow them into the next success story. 

There is a tangible change of pace in investments as well, with rounds closing in close succession and companies growing at an unprecedented pace, made possible in part by a strengthened support infrastructure, improved regulations, but most of all, by a new generation of founders with incredible depth of experience and the teams they surround themselves with.

As companies grow, their need to fill key positions is accelerated, and the market is clearly in favor of the Talent. Today’s teams and the cultures they build will impact the generations of companies after that.

We take team culture very seriously and have seen various great global and regional examples, as well as a number of cautionary tales. Building a team of people who can enrich as much as they can benefit from your company’s culture is crucial. But it’s also a very delicate balance to strike, and one that can easily be offset by the proverbial ‘bad apple’, and in the MENA, we’ve barely scratched the surface when discussing the implications. 

Weak company culture can easily become toxic with very tangible results, negatively affecting a company’s balance sheet. It can break team flow, reduce productivity, and is conducive to churn, which in turn, results in loss of institutional IP that teams have worked very hard to build. In short, it can get quite expensive, particularly in our markets where hiring and letting go of employees remains quite frictional and costly. When we vet companies, we look at what type of leaders the founders are as well.

In Episode 7 of The Nuwa Capital podcast, I had the pleasure of hosting Nathalie Spree, Partner at True Search, an executive search platform helping companies hire senior talent across the globe, and part of the Nuwa Network. With companies witnessing accelerated growth on one hand, and sourcing and hiring the right talent becoming increasingly challenging and competitive on the other, we wanted to pause on what it means to build the right team, best practices for hiring, what talent is looking for, and the cost of poor company culture.

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Stephanie Nour Prince is Partner at Nuwa Capital where she leads on the fund’s network engagements and operations.

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