Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB) has partnered with China-based MSA Capital to launch Al Salam-MSA Bahrain Fund I, a $50 million venture capital fund which will target investment opportunities that put innovative Chinese technologies and business models to work within the MENA region using Bahrain as a gateway into the region’s $1.5 trillion economy.
MEC Ventures will be the first privately funded and led venture to unify Chinese and Middle Eastern capital and technology markets, a statement said.
It added that the fund is expected to be the first investment limited partnership to be established under Bahrain’s recently introduced Investment Limited Partnerships Law.
The fund will spearhead capital and technology flow and cooperation between the two regions while capitalizing on best practices pioneered in the Chinese tech industry.
Investments by MEC Ventures will cover multiple sectors, including e-commerce, FinTech and the array of technology ecosystem enablers like big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing as well as logistics and networking systems.
The team at MEC Ventures will aim to complement portfolio companies in their expansion strategies by enhancing their offerings, geographic reach, and usage volumes, thereby enhancing value, the statement added.
Rafik Nayed, group CEO at Al Salam Bank-Bahrain said: “Bahrain is a natural fit for this pioneering partnership having served as a commercial bridge linking East and West for thousands of years. MEC Ventures will be an active participant in the regional venture capital landscape which only stands to grow by leveraging on cutting edge China-based technologies and expertise.”
Ben Harburg, managing partner at MSA Capital added: “The combination of high mobile penetration, high ARPU, and a large youth population, coupled with substantial market white space, evidenced by factors such as low e-commerce penetration levels and large unbanked populations, offer an ideal opportunity for investment.
“We believe that the MENA region is nearing an inflection point that can be accelerated through the adoption of Chinese-inspired mobile-first business models.”