Event Reports

MENA Business Angel Focus Camp

Focus camp to inspire and enable investors to contribute to a thriving regional startup ecosystem through the provision of the fundamental knowledge on investing in the MENA startup scene.

A lack of seed and early stage funding is one of the key challenges for startups in the MENA region. Additionally, many MENA entrepreneurs find their efforts hampered by legal and logistical roadblocks and 65 percent of entrepreneurs lack strategic planning and decision making skills. To facilitate an understanding of the startup ecosystem and to inspire entrepreneurs to invest in newly emerged, fast-growing business ventures, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Regional Program South Mediterranean organized and hosted a focus camp from 20-24 October 2017 in Istanbul.

The aim of the seminar was to inspire and train investors in the MENA region to utilize their capital and experience for nurturing promising ventures that have the potential to promote economic development on a national level while facilitating access to seed funding for small startups. During three days of workshops and visits to the Startup Istanbul conference, the Regional Office trained a motivated group of inspired Business Angels by providing them with the fundamental knowledge required to understand developments and the selection criteria of the regional startup scene.

Business Angels (BA) are instrumental for the seed funding rounds. They provide startups with “smart money” since funding is coupled with mentoring and connections. BA’s funding is a great way to connect the classical private sector with innovation and offers BAs themselves the possibility to diversify their investments. However, BAs don’t always know how and in which startups to invest, and how to develop the right gut feeling at this stage of the startup lifecycle. During the workshop, prominent speakers and facilitators from the MENA region and the global startup scene shared their experience and expertise with the focus camp participants.

The focus camp kicked off with an Angel Investor workshop together with 200 Angel Investors from all around the world and continued with a startup “demo day.” On the second day, Dr. Joachim Behrendt, Angel Investor of Startup Istanbul 2016, held a talk on the role of business angels and the challenges and pitfalls of investing. Subsequently, Ms. Nermine Chatila, an Investment Analyst at the WoMENA Business Angel network, gave an input lecture on due diligence and technical investment terms. Ms. Nora Beckershaus, Director of Operations and Growth at Refinery29 Germany and Omar Yaacoubi, founder of Barac, discussed the startup perspective on Business Angel investments. Afterwards, Mr. Nicolas Rouhana, Chairman of Insure and Match Capital, depicted his experience with creating angel groups as seeders in Lebanon. The day closed with a visit to the Kolektif House coworking space in partnership with the Founder Institute Istanbul and Sabanci University to meet startups and Business Angel organizations.

During the last day, the participants attended several talks at the Startup Istanbul Conference, including a keynote on the five principles for building innovation systems in established companies and a presentation on the issue pf cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Yaser Reda, CEO of ChickMania

"It was a great experience and will be quite beneficial to my entire company. I have met a lot of new people who are in similar positions as we are, and we have both learned from their experiences, and shared ours with them as well … If we had the chance to meet all of you once again, we will come without hesitation."