Exclusive: Talent investor People Equity Fund raises $12.5 million to invest in founders in Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan & Bangladesh

People Equity Fund, a talent investor platform for emerging markets has raised $12.5 million for its first fund, it told MENAbytes, saying that the $15 million-fund will invest in people to help them become founders. The fund did not share the details of its limited partners (LPs) but told MENAbytes that they’re GCC-based family offices. It is currently also in discussions with some institutional investors and corporates from the region and may increase its target size from $15 million to a higher amount.

Founded by Rachid Ouaich, Mohammad Raafi Hossain, and Hassan Karimi, People Equity Fund will invest at the people stage in Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan & Bangladesh.

The first cohort and corresponding investments will commence from October 1st in Bangladesh with applications opening towards the end of July. They’re aiming to launch in Pakistan in 2020 Q1 and in the following quarters in Morocco & Algeria. 

The trio that comes with tens of years of experience in institutional investing, founding, leading startups, and helping governments with different digital initiatives thinks that they can find outlier opportunities by investing at earlier stages and in yet-to-mature markets that are undervalued and underfunded compared to more established markets. 

“People in emerging markets are tenacious & ambitious, yet overlooked and underfunded by global venture capital. Our vision is to equip these people with capital, knowledge & networks to create globally successful companies and effectively build ecosystem highways between emerging countries,” notes People Equity Fund in its deck, seen by MENAbytes.

People-stage investments are not new. Investors like Singapore-based Antler and London-based Entrepreneur First have been doing that for a few years. Wamda has also been investing in idea-stage entrepreneurs through its grant-based program Wamda X (the last cohort, however, had startups, not idea-stage entrepreneurs) and Beco Capital has recently launched Launch with Beco through which it is investing up to $150,000 in exceptional talent to help them build their companies from scratch.

But none of these investors are focused on the markets that People Equity Fund is going after, “Our target markets are some of the fastest-growing, yet undervalued markets with a combined domestic market population of over 450 million people. Driven by a young & talented demographic, these countries have been outperforming most emerging economies for years and are named as some of the top 20 countries by 2050 by PwC & Goldman Sachs,” notes People Equity Fund’s deck.

The fund will source what it says will be “ambitious, passionate and dedicated individuals” to take part in its intensive and renumerated 12-week capacity building program where it will help these people start globally successful companies from their local market. The 40 selected individuals throughout the program will receive (what it says will be) a competitive remuneration. Towards the end of the program, those participants who are unable to find a co-founder will also have an array of options: from joining another team, being placed with a local corporate partner or preparing to apply for a future cohort. 

After graduation, selected startups will receive $25,000/person as an investment in them. People Equity Fund will open its applications within the next few weeks.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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