BEIRUT: It all started in 2016 when Insure & Match Capital in partnership with GoBeyond launched the first Seeder Business Masterclass. A year later, the Lebanese Women Angel Fund was introduced by the duo to empower and encourage women angel investors and the investment in women led startups.
Today, with over 100 investors graduated already and an investment of over $1.5 million in startups, the Insure & Match Capital (IM), funded by the United States Agency for International Development, celebrated the graduation of its fourth batch of the Seeder, Lebanese Women Angel Fund Masterclass for Business Angels MBA Class of 2018-2019.
Attended by USAID Economic Growth Office Director William M Butterfield, Minister of Investment and Technology HEM Adel Afiouni and IM Capital General Manager Dr. Nico-las Rouhana, in addition to other officials, private sector representatives, universities, and media representatives. The event commenced on July 10, 2019, at La Mezcaleria Rooftop, Beirut.
Dr. Rouhana told Annahar: “There are people outside the community that never thought of investing in startups, we are getting them into this interest. It’s never the same people, the usual suspects, we are bringing new people and fresh investments into the startup community."
In total, the program has graduated 105 business angels through a “learn & earn” methodology consisting of education and an investment track in Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Each angel contributed $15K, which was pooled into a $495K fund, and matched by $742.5K by the iSME program by Kafalat to reach an aggregate amount of $1.2 million dollars. 50% of the capital was guaranteed by IM Capital, with 50% of funds allocated to women-led startups.
Butterfield described Lebanon to have the potential to “become a regional hub for investment management, and we believed that since we launched the program in 2014.” The importance is based on a new study by the Ministry of Economy and Trade Commission, that McKinsey & Company carried out.
Emphasizing that importance, Butterfield told Annahar: “Knowledge economy and investment in startups is the way to go. USAID has been doing that for five years and will continue to do that.”
After congratulating the 33 graduating business angels and following the distribution of the MBA certificates, three trophies were awarded to Angel Investors and mentors who stood out in 2018-2019 within the IM Capital community: the “IM Capital Super Angel” trophy went to Mrs. Diane Fadel, the “Seeders LWAF Super Angel” trophy went to Mrs. Asmahein Zein, and the “Confideo Super Mentor” trophy went to Mr. Gabriel Deek.
“I think we all agree that the future of Lebanon lies in its youth and young entrepreneurs because our economy has always strived on young entrepreneurs and private initiatives.” Minister Afiouni told Annahar.
He explained the importance of the startup community as it leads to idea generation, wealth, and job creations. “That's where startups play a key, and we want to become a startup nation and multiply the startups a year by five or even ten times, and I believe we can do that,” he added.
Rouhana added at the end of the ceremony that the group committed $800,00 in five startups with a potential for follow-on rounds, announcing a new Seeders-LWAF Class launching in September “for any individual who is interested in investing in Lebanese startups while becoming a certified investor and belonging to a unique, diverse, impactful group.”
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