- Al Waha Fund joins global Kauffman Fellows Network in bid to boost the GCC’s VC ecosystem and help increase access to capital for region’s startups
- Areije Al Shakar becomes one of 800 Fellows from 65 countries to complete the prestigious two-year venture capital curriculum for leading and innovative investors
Manama, Bahrain: Areije Al Shakar, one of Bahrain’s financial leaders and director at Al Waha Fund of Funds, has become the first Bahraini and female GCC national to be named a Kauffman Fellow.
Kauffman Fellows is one of the world’s premier innovation, leadership, and venture capital focused programmes. It fosters innovative leaders and investors through a two-year venture capital fellowship.
Al Shakar graduated at a ceremony in San Francisco in June, joining a lifelong network of 800 Fellows from 65 countries around the globe. Al Waha Fund of Funds is one of 670 firms represented. As a network, Kauffman Fellows represents over $290 billion in assets under management, has collectively raised over $790 billion in capital, and has been responsible for over $8.5 trillion in exits to LPs.
“It is a privilege to become part of the prestigious Kauffman network and I look forward to collaborating with global peers, drawing on their experiences and expertise, to continue developing the Gulf’s VC community,” said Al Shakar.
“Al Waha was founded to help startups in the region access capital. Over the last four years, we have worked hard to build Bahrain’s and the region’s VC ecosystem. The Gulf is beginning to see greater interest from international funds and joining the Kauffman Fellows Network helps to put the GCC’s VC community on the map. We hope this will contribute to attracting more firms to the region and boost startups in sectors such as fintech and digital health.”
Managed by Bahrain Development Bank (BDB), Al Waha aims to be a leading example of how government programmes can help to build a strong VC ecosystem and spur VC capabilities in the region.
Dalal Alqais, CEO at BDB, said: “We are very proud of Areije’s momentous achievement. It marks an important milestone in her personal growth journey as a luminary of the financial sector. But it is also a significant step for Bahrain’s and the GCC’s VC ecosystem.
“International funds are increasingly interested in the region’s vibrant startups, and it is crucial we continue to empower and nurture the region’s talents. As the original epicentre of the Middle East’s financial sector, it is fitting that Bahrain has produced the first female GCC national Kauffman Fellow.”
Jeff Harbach, President and CEO at Kauffman Fellows, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Areije and Al Waha Fund into our diverse global network of innovative investors. Kauffman Fellows is committed to supporting the most exciting startup ecosystems around the globe. The GCC is emerging as one of the most promising launchpads for entrepreneurs, and it is no coincidence that the region is also producing incredibly innovative investors. We look forward to bringing our fellowship programme to more of the Middle East’s top talents.”
To become a Fellow, investors must attend a structured curriculum, create a two-year tailored individual development plan, work with personal facilitated mentoring, engage in peer learning, participate in networking events, and submit a thought leadership project. The curriculum focuses on developing each Fellow’s skills and responsibility as an emerging leader in the industry.
Al Waha provides market access for international funds looking to invest in the Middle East, as well as for portfolio companies looking to expand, and has developed into a strategic as well as a financial partner to funds. It is a key part of the drive to pool capital from East and West to better bridge markets. This is essential for Middle East businesses to scale, and critical to turning the Gulf from a consumer of innovation to a driver of innovation.