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Global firms eye partnership with Mena start-ups

Leading investors from US’ Silicon Valley, the UK, Finland, France, Jordan and other countries held key discussions with start-ups from Bahrain and the Mena region on future collaboration at the first-ever Mena Angel Investors Summit in the kingdom.

The two-day summit had been organised by Tenmou, Bahrain’s first ‘Business Angels’ organisation.

This was an indication of the keen interest the global players had in doing business in the region, said the organisers of the debut event held at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa on June 1.

The experts also discussed ways to plug a funding gap for start-ups across the region, they added.

In his opening remarks, Transportation Minister and Economic Development Board (EDB) acting chief executive Kamal Ahmed told a gathering of more than 100 participants to use the opportunity offered by the summit to present their ideas and creations to benefit Bahrain and the region.

Ahmed spoke to more than 25 angel investors and 50 entrepreneurs about the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to global economies.

“Bahrain has long been at the centre of entrepreneurship, with its highly skilled workforce and ease of doing business. This annual event will further reinforce Bahrain’s position on the map as the regional centre for entrepreneurship and angel investing,” he stated.

The EDB would facilitate the process of mapping the universe of angel investors in the region to connect them with viable start-ups that show long-term growth potential, the minister said.

Keynote speaker Dave McClure from ‘500 Startups’ in Silicon Valley, shared his experience in matching start-up companies with investors in the US and beyond.

The international investors then provided the participants with an overview of what makes start-ups successful, before watching the early stage companies present their ideas to attract investment. Later, there was a panel discussion on the way forward for the Mena angel investment scene.

Tenmou chairman Sami Jalal said he was confident it would prove an “excellent platform for regional and international investors to connect with high-potential innovative entrepreneurs from the region.”

Launched in 2011, Tenmou aims to support entrepreneurs with business assistance, including financial investment, mentorship and guidance.

Established with a start-up capital of BD1 million ($2.63 million),Tenmou invests an average of BD20,000 for a stake of on average 20 per cent in each project that meets its criteria, and will provide a three-month mentorship, including support services, at no cost to the entrepreneurs.

Tenmou chief executive Hasan Haider said a key aim of the event was to promote equity financing and angel investing as a complementary and alternative mode of funding for Mena start-ups and SMEs in various stages of growth.

“Each project receives practical advice and training from the company’s board members, who bring with them a wealth of business experience,” Haider said.

“These training sessions expose the entrepreneurs to real business situations and are conducted in the form of workshops, on a regular basis,” he added.

A number of meetings have been organised for participants to familiarise them with opportunities available in Bahrain. The summit concludes today.

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