Lebanon Businessnews News

Bader fund invests in three local firms
New investors will double fund's equity
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Bader’s Building Block Equity Fund (BBF) has invested a total amount of $1.1 million in three local startups.

The fund invested $400,000 in Shawarmanji, a specialty fast-food eatery launched in Beirut in 2012. The chain now has outlets in Dubai and Qatar.

An amount of $250,000 was invested in Shahiya.com, a cooking recipes website launched in January 2012. The website is now ranked the first cooking website and the fourth women-oriented website in the Arab world.

$500,000 were invested in Cedar Books, an online bookstore launched in 2009. Cedar Books works in cooperation with Amazon and has depots in New York, France, the UK, and Beirut.

The BBF is currently managed by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), a Beirut-based venture capital firm. “Although it was assigned to manage the fund two years ago, MEVP actually became active as the BBF manager in January 2013,” said Walid Hanna, Managing Partner at MEVP.

The fund’s duration was extended until 2018 after it had been intended to end in 2014.

BBF’s investment committee includes MEVP, Bank Audi, Fransabank, BankMed, BLOM Bank, Banque Libano-Française, Credit Libanais, and M1 Group (owned by former Prime Minister Najib Mikati).

The fund’s current equity is $7.3 million. Bader aims to boost the equity up to $15 million through introducing new investors. “Med Securities (of BankMed Group) and another bank have signed a mandate to raise equity for the fund,” said Hanna. The capital increase should be finalized in six months, he said.

BBF targets startups, namely those specialized in technology, such as mobile applications, online games, and digital media. The investment per firm ranges between $500,000 and $1 million, over a period of three years.

Hanna said: “Our strategy in BBF is to invest in firms that are based in Lebanon but target consumers abroad. We cannot make enough profit from investing in firms that target the local market only.”
Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: May 22, 2013
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