The creation and rise of an angel investment ecosystem in the UAE

By Sanjiv Purushotham / Khaleej Times  - Image Credit: Khaleej Times


SOURCE: Khaleej Times - The rise of UAE's angel investment ecosystem

The 5 largest US firms measured by market capitalisation are Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, and all of them were bootstrapped, funded by angels and venture capital. This represents a rudimentary shift in how the new economy will develop globally. Read on about the creation and rise of an angel investment ecosystem in the UAE.

The reveal
"We now have founders funding founders." A couple of very powerful words spoken by Ramesh Jaganathan, managing director of startAD, to commence the AngelRising event held at the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on March 23. You need very few words to describe success. It was a full house at the event anchored by a dazzling array of speakers and panellists including renowned local and global experts like Dr Saeeda Jaffar - managing director of Alvarez and Marsal Middle East Limited, John Tate - CEO of Tamkeen, Jake Zeller - partner at AngelList, Ola Doudin - co-founder and CEO at BitOasis, Lina Hediah - executive director at Consensys, Rahul Pai - COO at UAE Exchange, Jonathan Nelson - founder and CEO of Hackers/Founders, Christos Mastoras - founder of Glambox and managing partner at Iliad Partners and Omar Christidis - CEO and founder at ArabNet among others.

"As venture capital moves to larger amount, there is an investment gap in the market that can be filled by CEOs and successful founders of enterprises." Jaganathan went on to briefly and precisely describe the organic growth of angel investing in the UAE, pointing out that it is local investors who are creating the ecosystem of entrepreneurship through domain, cultural and region-specific knowledge. The day's events were clearly an extension of the first few words.

Anchored in the inspiring and architecturally elegant NYUAD campus just off the E311, startAD is an innovation and entrepreneurship platform that supports startups in the UAE at every stage of their development. It seeks to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE by offering core programmes, education initiatives and outreach events for all members of the local startup community - from innovators to early-stage entrepreneurs to investors. The platform has run 64 programmes with over 2,500 entrepreneurial participants. But it's not just about the programmes. StartAD actively connects diverse players in the ecosystem. Government entities, technologists, regulators, banks, corporates, entrepreneurs, students and academicians. The primary objective is to encourage all players to interact and create value for themselves as well as for the larger context.