500 Startups and Sanabil Investments launch accelerator for early-stage startups in MENA

500 Startups, an active global early-stage venture capital firm, has partnered with Sanabil Investments, a financial investment company focused on global private investments in venture capital, growth, and small buyout, to launch the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program in Riyadh.

This follows the recent announcement of the establishment of 500 Startups’ new MENA regional headquarters in Riyadh.


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The accelerator will consist of six programs run by 500 Startups over a period of three years for a select group of Pre-Seed and Seed-stage startups from across the MENA region. Startups participating in the program are expected to receive a $100K investment from the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Fund - a 500 Startups fund.

In addition to investing in program participants, the fund will also invest opportunistically in other Pre-Seed and Seed-stage startups throughout MENA. The fund is expected to invest in approximately 100 startups.

Applications for the first batch of the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator kick off on February 22nd. 500 will select startups from Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, and its global network of expert mentors will deliver the program to help them scale and build regional and global connections.

Founders will participate in a 12-week program which begins with a two-week session on Foundations of Growth - a deep-dive into the fundamentals of business expansion, followed by seven weeks of guided coaching and an additional three weeks of classes on fundraising and pitch prep. They will have access to investor office hours throughout the program, which culminates in Demo Day one week after its conclusion.

Bedy Yang, Managing Partner at 500 Startups, and General Partner of the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Fund said, “We are thrilled to back the very best startups in MENA through the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Fund and program. The region’s ecosystem has evolved significantly since 500 first started investing in the region nearly 10 years ago, and we will continue providing seed-stage founders with the best support possible.”

“We are excited to partner with 500 Startups to launch the accelerator program. The program will help fund and support founders in Saudi Arabia and regionally to accelerate their growth and create the champions of tomorrow,” said a Sanabil Investments representative.

500 Startups has run 50 accelerator programs in Silicon Valley and globally, and invested in over 2,500 companies worldwide, including more than 180 companies in MENA. Based on internal valuations and information received (but not verified), as of December 31, 2020, 500’s global investment portfolio now has more than 23 Unicorns or investments valued at over $1B.


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