Egyptian Omar Darwazah and Kyle Hendrick, the General Partners of Washington-based Arab Angel Fund, are uniquely working with investors to build bridges between startups in North America and the MENA region.
Are you checking your Facebook right now? Are you going to meet friends after work and catching an Uber? Do you have a bitten apple on any device you're currently using? Do you realise what we're getting at here? A lot of devices and applications we're using and depending on today were originally startups from a bunch of regular folk like us, and they managed to entirely change our lives and behaviours. We get an up close and personal view of how the startup ecosystem is expanding here in Egypt through the ripple effects of RiseUp Summit, with entrepreneurs receiving funding from investors genuinely interested in their ideas and models. Beyond that, startups from abroad have potential here in the MENA region, and Arab Angel Fund (AAF) is probably the most unique venture capital firm helping bring these startups from North America to the region. Founded by Egyptian Omar Darwazah and his partner, Kyle Hendrick, the two general partners have closed on $10 million in September, and have already invested in 16 different startups.
A venture capital (VC) firm based in Washington, DC, AAF focuses on investing in startups at the Seed and Series A rounds. Over the past year, Darwazah and Hendrick have raised awareness of the North American VC model among investors in the MENA region which has helped them raise $10 million from over 35 Limited Partners (LPs). "We are excited to be able to offer retail investors in the GCC and MENA regions the opportunity to invest in prominent startups at the Seed and Series A rounds, and in turn offer these LPs the opportunity to scale these portfolio companies in the region," he says. AAF's unique approach lies in their focus on North American startups, eventually achieving a bridge between our region and the other side of the world.With a strong financial background, diverse skill sets, and a vast network across North America and MENA, both partners were able setup AAF and quickly deploy capital investing in 16 startups over the past two months. These startups range from Ampsy – which provides clients with hyper-local social analytics so they know how social media is picking up on their brand – to CrowdMed, which solves medical issues online, and Snap + Style, which is basically your own personal fashion stylist on your phone. Our favourite, though? Yoshi. They deliver gas to your car - as in, you never have to go to the gas station. When is that coming here?
"We're looking to help bring and scale these North American startups in the MENA region within 12 months of investing," Darwazah says. Essentially, AAF is helping investors look beyond conventional asset classes – such as equities and real estate – and move towards investing in the growth of technological companies and startups, and watch the change they hold for the region and the whole world unfold.