As reported few weeks ago, Bahrain Development Bank has today launched Al Waha, the $100 million venture capital fund of funds to boost the startup ecosystem in Bahrain and across the Middle East.
Announcing launch of the fund at Gateway Gulf Forum today, Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chairman of Bahrain Development Bank said, “This is very exciting news for the startup ecosystem both here in Bahrain and across the Middle East. We know that access to capital is one of the biggest constraints on growth for startups, so this fund will help businesses in Bahrain and across the Middle East to get access to the capital they need to expand.”
The fund will only invest in VCs that have presence in Bahrain. It will also help Bahrain attract venture capitalists who are largely present in other parts of the region including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“Venture capital investment in the MENA region is a fraction of the level in markets like the USA and China – this means there are entrepreneurs with great ideas that are not realizing their potential because they cannot access the funding required. We are delighted to be able to utilize the strengths of Bahrain as a regional financial center and its growing startup ecosystem to support the growth of a new wave of innovative businesses across the region,” Chairman of BDB added.
For those who don’t know, Bahrain Development Bank is a ‘development finance institution established by Bahrain’s government to promote investments in the country.’
BDB has been very active in the local startup ecosystem with different programs including Rowad that helps startups in the country with learning tools like trainings, workshops, and coaching program and invest in them up to $66,000 (25,000 Bahrain Dinar) through Seed Fuel, its accelerator for early-stage startups.
Bahrain has been making a lot of efforts lately to turn itself into a startup and innovation hub and this fund seems to be an extension of the same efforts.