What is an Angel Investor? WOMENA Explains  

Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world begin their journey in entrepreneurship. Whether driven by need or desire, in hopes of creating a small family business or a large global enterprise, a necessary resource for any entrepreneur to begin is capital. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on informal funding from themselves and what we in the business refer to as “FFF: friends, families and fools.” For some, this funding is enough. However, many, especially those with high-growth potential, will require multiple stages of funding in order to grow.

As entrepreneurship continues to flourish around the world, so too do the number of individuals who choose to become early stage investors in these startups. Referred to as an angel investor or a business angel, they are individuals who are independently wealthy and seek to invest their own money in startups. As early stage investors, angels typically invest during the seed stage, when a company has most likely built a prototype [link to commonly defined terms?], but has no real traction or growth. Because most of the business plan is still unproven at this point, the risk for investors is high but the entrepreneur’s need for capital is critical- a situation that has resulted in the investors being referred to as “angels.”

Because the risk for investors at this stage is so great, most angel investors will invest smaller amounts, between $10,000 and $50,000, in multiple companies. This approach allows an investor to diversify his or her portfolio, increasing chances that one of the startups will be very successful, referred to as a “homerun.” On average, most investments in a portfolio will fail, while only 1 in 10 investments in a portfolio is likely to return 10x the investment and 2-3 investments may return 2x the investment. To further mitigate the risks of early stage investing and increase the likelihood of funding a “homerun,” many investors join an angel group to invest alongside other angels.

Besides the risk, a major attribute of angel investors that sets them apart from other types of investors is that they usually offer their investments more than just capital. Angels provide valuable resources such as strategic or managerial advice and introductions to their personal networks to help the business grow. Oftentimes, an angel will sit on the board of advisors of the company in order to stay involved and offer assistance when needed. At such an early stage, access to such resources is an invaluable asset of angel investors and can help increase the likelihood that startups will survive and grow.

As an increasing number of individuals set out to disrupt various industries with their ideas, so too does the need for investors who are willing to take the risk of investing early and who can offer mentorship and guidance to their investments. If you think angel investing is for you, contact us or apply to be part of WOMENA.

WOMENA’s First Pitch Meeting!  

The first WOMENA Charter Group Meeting was held on December 10th and saw three companies present to WOMENA’s charter members. Kamal Hassan, the founder of Turn8 and the i360accelerator as well as the General Partner for Fenox Venture Capital in Dubai, kicked off the proceedings as a guest speaker. He highlighted a few key elements investors but pay attention to when analysing the presenting companies. He specified the importance of diversification as well as the strength of the founding team when choosing an investment.

Bern Shen, a serial entrepreneur, TechWadi board member, and a member of the Band of Angels, then addressed our members, warmly greeting them to the world of investment and quickly reaffirmed the need for women to be invested (pun intended) in this industry.

Following our two guest speakers, the three companies – Eventtus, Feesheh and Melltoo – were invited to present to the assembled WOMENA members.

Eventtus is a one-stop events platform, helping people discover new events, buy tickets, and network with the right people to make the most out of event night

Feesheh is the first online store for musical instruments serving the Arab World

Melltoo is a social marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of secondhand goods, available as an app or online

Each presentation was followed by a Q&A from our members. The evening concluded with networking and a further chance for our members to grill the entrepreneurs on their business plans. All in all an excellent evening!

To see more pictures from the evening, check out our Facebook album!


Ladies Who Launch  

On November 1st, almost 50 leading women from across the Middle East gathered in Dubai to celebrate the launch of WOMENA at our inaugural event, Ladies Who Launch. It was an afternoon enjoyed by all and set the stage for our first charter group meeting in December. We had guests travelling from as far away as Silicon Valley and Turkey to join us and all from different industry sectors and cultures.

It was excellent to see the women we’ve been in contact for many months all in one space for the first time and very energizing to see such a group of accomplished women who wanted to invest not only their finances in the region, but their wealth of knowledge.

To see more pictures check out our Facebook album!


Why It’s Time to Invest in The Middle East  

The Middle East is usually seen around the world as a region of war and tumult. There are areas in the region where unfortunately that is the case, but a lot of the region is stable and experiencing rapid growth, especially in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a unique mix of high consumption, quality entrepreneurs, increasing technological uptake, and an underdeveloped early stage financing ecosystem, it is the right time for to see some excellent returns if they know where to look.

The Middle East has a young and technologically engaged population with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. The culturally diverse region has 400 million potential customers sharing a common language that 4% of the world speaks, and yet there is a striking lack of mobile content serving this market, with only 1% of the world’s internet content in Arabic.

Governments are seeing the potential of startup ecosystems and are working hard to develop them. The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, twofour54, The Khalifa Fund, and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development are just a few examples of government initiatives to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Banks in the Middle East are wary of lending money to small and medium sized businesses. High net worth individuals in the Middle East, on the whole, tend to have a preference for investments in tangible assets. A fear of regional instability keeps many international venture capital firms and angel investors from investing in the region. While these conditions could be seen as drawbacks, they provide significant openings for angel investors who think differently and believe in the Middle East’s potential.

And for entrepreneurs, the competitive landscape is more favorable than in Silicon Valley. A smart entrepreneur can find opportunities to “arabize” a business that has been successful in the West, or create a unique startup catering to the region’s previously ignored needs, and may find themselves to be one of the few doing it, and with the right investors, or “smart capital,” the best doing it, too.

These are just a few of the reasons why the Middle East is an attractive region for investors and why WOMENA exists. We provide our investors with a clear portal to prescreened deal flow, our own due diligence, guidance for evaluating potential investments, tailored education, and we then facilitate the investment process for our members and help our portfolio companies to grow with the combined networks of our membership and the strategic guidance of our members, our team, and the wider community. We understand that some investors are apprehensive to get involved with technology startup investments, which look entirely different than real estate or restaurant investments, and we emphasize education and guidance for our membership and the community-at-large. We want our members to be smart investors who can help their portfolio companies be a big success and we want to see the Middle East grow.

Any comments or questions are welcomed and encouraged, and please follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with WOMENA!