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Abraaj Capital acquires venture capital firm Riyada

Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital Group has agreed to acquire Amman-based Riyada Ventures as part of a major push by Abraaj into the small and medium enterprise space.

Riyada Ventures, whose track record encompasses more than 25 regional and international venture capital transactions, also operates an office in Cairo.

Its founder and chief executive Khaldoon Tabaza has worked in the Mena venture capital industry since 2000, prior to which he set up several high-growth entrepreneurial ventures.

Riyada Ventures will be integrated by Abraaj into its newly launched regional SME and entrepreneurship initiative. Tabaza will continue as the chief executive of the new business line of Abraaj.

Abraaj has enjoyed significant past success in the SME space, having been an early backer of Maktoob.com, an Arab language portal recently acquired by Yahoo! It was also the original institutional investor in companies such as Arabtec, Aramex and Amwal.

Through the new initiative, Abraaj will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in SMEs across Mena with the aim of creating high-impact, high-growth, successful businesses to fuel innovation, job creation, sustainable growth and economic diversification.

Abraaj will work with governments, regional and international development and investment organisations, and Abraaj’s investor base to provide a pan-regional platform from which investments will be made.

In addition to the commercial objectives of the platform, Abraaj will also provide entrepreneurial support at the grassroots level in the form of business mentoring, training and technical assistance to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in business communities across the region.

For companies in which it invests, Abraaj will provide a dedicated back-office platform to offer both strategic support services and operational functionality to facilitate growth plans and provide mentorship to the young entrepreneurs in the SME space, which comprises more than 80 per cent of economic activity across the Mena region.

Abraaj will allocate a portion of the funds raised for a given nation to the development needs of its less fortunate communities by partnering with an established sustainable development fund that provides patient capital and that subscribes to the philosophy of sustainable philanthropic capital.

Founder and chief executive Arif Naqvi (pictured) says: "We are delighted to welcome Khaldoon and his team at Riyada Ventures into the Abraaj group, to spearhead our regional enterprise-development initiative. Abraaj is committed to creating the region’s largest dedicated platform to support entrepreneurship and innovation within the high-growth economies of the Mena region."

Tabaza adds: "Abraaj’s groundbreaking initiative in the SME and entrepreneurship space will be a positive inflexion point in the development of high-impact, high-growth ventures in the MENA region. We are honoured and delighted to be part of the Abraaj success story."

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