RIYADH: Nuwa Capital, a venture capital firm with offices in Riyadh and Dubai, has closed 75 percent of its new $100 million flagship fund, with the majority of investors coming from Saudi Arabia.
The Nuwa Ventures Fund I (NVFI) plans to invest significant amounts in leading technology startups from across rapidly growing markets in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as neighboring countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, and the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Khaled Talhouni, managing partner of Nuwa Capital, told Arab News that a large chunk of the funding would be coming from Saudi family businesses and groups.
“I can easily say a plurality of our investors are Saudi … our anchor investor is the Al-Faisaliah Group. A big part of this firm is deeply rooted in Saudi in multiple ways,” he said.
The Al-Faisaliah Group (AFG) is a private holding company headquartered in Riyadh. Founded in 1971, it operates in multiple sectors including dairy, electronics, healthcare, and food service.
Interest in investments in the technology sector has increased markedly in the Kingdom, particularly since the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Last year, Saudi Arabia recorded a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the number of investment deals in the technology startup sector and a 55 percent surge in tech startup funding.
“We were initially very surprised with the increased appetite for investing in technology, but as last year progressed, it did make a lot of sense because everybody turned to technology,” said Sarah Abu Risheh, partner at Nuwa Capital.
“The region started digitizing very fast. We were fundraising at that time, and we saw a lot of interest, and that was really positive for us,” she added.
Talhouni noted the importance of focusing on the technological aspect of the investment industry, as the rate of digitization, both globally and in the region, affected every other industry too.
“Technology really touches everything now, it’s no longer really a discreet sector. If there is one thing we have learned from COVID-19 it’s that companies and sectors need to digitize quickly, or risk becoming obsolete. I don’t think this dichotomy between what is or isn’t tech is still valid,” he said.