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Mubadala unit among investors in new Abu Dhabi fund to support tech start-ups


Abu Dhabi-based Access Bridge Ventures, a newly launched regionally-focused fund, will target a final commitment of over $25 million

A new early-stage venture capital fund which will support tech start-ups in the Gulf and the wider MENA region has announced its first financial close with investments from the likes of Mubadala Capital, the financial investment arm of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) and several prominent family offices.

Abu Dhabi-based Access Bridge Ventures (ABV), the newly launched regionally-focused fund, will target a final commitment of over $25 million and will also support start-ups in Egypt and Pakistan.

As part of the funding, investors will gain access to some of the region’s most transformative, home-grown tech companies.

The financial close comes as the International Monetary Fund estimates that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) represent about 96 percent of registered companies and about half of all employment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Despite this, the total financing gap for MSMEs is estimated to be as much as $240 billion, according to the International Finance Corporation.

ABV said it will support high-growth tech start-ups from the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Pakistan and the wider MENA region.

Working with start-ups in the early stages of their development, ABV added that it will help build regional and international champions across numerous sectors, including health-tech, edu-tech, fin-tech, enterprise-tech and software as a service (SaaS).

ABV is led by Issa Aghabi and Rakan AlRashed, who bring 25 years’ experience in investing and exiting tech companies in the MENA region and beyond.

Prior to ABV, Aghabi headed the venture capital activities of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in MENA, and Pakistan while, AlRashed was part of a leading Saudi investment firm that focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.

Aghabi, co-founder and managing partner, said: “The MENA landscape has transformed over the past few years, with entrepreneurs and start-ups acting as a catalyst for economic growth and development. ABV has the unique ability to identify and cultivate this new breed of tech companies, many of which are extraordinary in their own right, and help them realise their full potential.

“Securing our first close reflects the confidence in ABV’s capabilities and investment strategy, where we lead the round and support our founders throughout their journey, as early as first institutional investor.”

CedarBridge Capital Partners, a middle market private equity firm, has co-founded the fund as part of its mandate to partner with promising founders and management teams and help them expand their investment remit and achieve exceptional growth.

ABV is regulated by the Abu Dhabi Global Market.