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As part of the Lebanon Investment Initiative (LII), a $38M program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund and support startups in Lebanon, IM Ventures announced the first investments under the latest Save Our Startups (SOS) Fund.
The Save Our Startups Fund, is a pioneering high-growth investment vehicle created under USAID’s Lebanon Investment Initiative to support the startups and overall investment ecosystem during the current economic crisis in Lebanon. This $12M fund gathered 20 private and institutional investors, including Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Phoenician Funds, BY Venture Partners, Cedar Mundi, IM Ventures, and IM Capital. The SOS Fund invested in 11 Lebanese startups in the ICT sector, with sustainable and scalable business models geared towards growth, increased employment, and more importantly export.
As Lebanon struggles with both, a recession and hyperinflation pushing many startups to little or no profit margins, Lebanon ranked 9th by amount of funding raised in 2021 as most recently recorded in our MENA Q3 2021 Venture Investment Report. Marking a 40% YoY decrease in volume of funding, Lebanon has raised 3 funding rounds this year including one in digital payments solutions provider Nymcard. Despite the economic struggle, Lebanon has also marked three exits this year with Lebanon-launched UAE-based Anghami, Ostaz by Synkers, and most recently game streaming platform Rawa.tv.
As a follow-on to the Middle East and North Africa Investment Initiative (MENA II) which successfully boosted early-stage investment in Lebanon, USAID introduced the LII, a five-year program awarded to Berytech Foundation and implemented by IM Ventures, to provide and leverage investment capital and build supporting institutions to position Lebanon as an investment opportunity. Commenting on the initiative, H.E. Dorothy C. Shea, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon stated, “Today’s milestone builds on years of staunch support for the Lebanese entrepreneurial spirit, which we believe is the cornerstone of a vibrant and evolving economy in Lebanon… For our Lebanon Investment Initiative, the SOS fund is only the beginning. We will continue to support startups and Lebanese businesses through other funds tailored to their needs as they address current and emerging opportunities. We will continue to work with investors to unlock capital to open more doors for Lebanese businesses.”
IM Ventures works in partnership with business incubators, business accelerators, business angels, venture capital and private equity funds to co-fund or partially insure their investments, and provide needed technical support, which most recently backed 11 new Lebanese ICT startups. In light of this recent fund launch Nicolas Rouhana, IM Ventures General Manager concluded “SOSF is focusing on the growth acceleration of ICT companies to help them develop and grow regionally and even globally. IM Ventures will devote considerable efforts to capacity-building of its investees and partner investors by providing strategic guidance, improving governance, enhancing market- linkages, continuing mentoring, hence sustaining and creating jobs as well as generating wealth.”
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