Israel’s Entrée Capital Invests Around $15 Million in UAE Startups
CTech – Entrée Capital, one of the most distinguished investment funds in Israel, has invested in four different startups in the United Arab Emirates and the Persian Gulf over the past year, Calcalist has learned. The fund has invested around $15 million in early-stage rounds.
Entrée Capital manages $650 million in six different funds, and has invested in hundreds of startups across Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, Africa, India, South Korea, and Europe. Its most notable investments include companies such as Snapchat, Monday.com, Deliveroo, Rapyd, and Riskified.
The fund’s latest investment in the UAE was in an Emirati insurtech company from Abu Dhabi, Hala, which raised $5 million in a round led by Entrée, along with the participation of investment company Mubadala, and the funds 500 Startups, Global Founder Capital, EQ2, and Oryx. Mubadala is the Emirati sovereign wealth fund, which also invests alongside Entrée in Europe. Hala was founded in 2018 by brothers Whalid Daniel and Karim Dib to coordinate payments between car insurance companies in the UAE, and are a digital insurtech company.
An additional company that Entrée has invested in is Tarabut, the largest and first open banking platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which connects a regional network of banks and fintech companies through an application programming interface (API). Tarabut is headquartered in Bahrain. The other two companies that Entree has invested in have yet to be revealed.
“There are a lot of startups that solve problems in the Middle East,” Aviad Eyal, co-founder and Managing Partner at Entrée Capital told Calcalist. “What is happening now also happened in Germany, where investors copied from the US. They saw what worked in the United States, and tried to bring it to the Middle East. Over the past few years, there are also plenty of young locals who returned to the UAE after completing their studies abroad at leading universities. They’re a new generation of entrepreneurs and managers who are replacing the previous generations of British and American managers.”
“We’ve been involved in investments in Emirati companies for two years, and have worked with their sovereign wealth fund in Europe, which has invested in our companies in Europe. I realized that it’s impossible to just go and ask for money. It’s a culture that prides itself on personal relationships and requires plenty of meetings before they throw money at you. I have met with funds, walked around WeWork and was in Abu Dhabi where I met with plenty of young entrepreneurs who are building companies. Since then, we’ve invested in four companies in the region. In contrast to investments in Israel — where we are looking for global companies — there we are looking for companies that can expand to the entire Middle East.”
“Companies that are founded there are mainly active in insurtech or e-commerce and are focused on the local market as well as the Arab market, which is expansive and serves hundreds of millions of people. Israeli investors have no problem here, and one of the companies we’ve invested in was founded by entrepreneurs of Palestinian decent whose family resides in the West Bank town of Nablus.”