Sadara Ventures/ The Middle East Venture Capital Fund was officially launched in Ramallah today in the presence of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salem Fayyad. Sadara, founded by Yadin Kauffman and Saed Nashef, completed the raising of $28 million, out the $50 million it plans to raise, a few weeks ago.
Most of Sadara's investors are not Palestinian, and they include Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the European Investment Bank, George Soros's Economic Development Fund, and the fund of AOL founder Steve Case.
Sadara will use its capital to make at least 12 investments in Palestinian start-ups. Nashef said, "We’ve just begun operations, and we prefer to wait until we have a complete picture about the opportunities in the sector." He said that the fund would invest in an average of three companies a year.
According to the Palestinian Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA), there are more than 300 Palestinian IT companies, but only a few are suitable for Sadara.
Sadara's Israeli connection is interesting. Kauffman was one of the first investors in Israeli high tech, and was involved in the establishment of Veritas Venture Partners and Athena Venture Partners. He also invested in Mercury Interactive and msystems Ltd.
Nashef said that Sadara would encourage cooperation with Israeli high tech, but carefully. "We believe that a connection with the Israeli side will have great value for companies and investors. Israeli high tech has a lot to contribute in terms of connections with entrepreneurs who have already done it and have experience in the field. Despite this side's importance for developing the sector, we won't force companies to do this."
For Cisco, the investment in Sadara expands its Palestinian operations as part of the company's commitment to invest in Palestinian high tech. Cisco head of responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa Zika Abzuk said, "Cisco will consider investing in other Palestinian funds."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 5, 2011
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