500 Startups Gives Flight to 500 Falcons, a $30M Middle-East and North Africa Focused Fund

Hasan Haider

December 03, 2015

We are excited to break new ground in the MENA region (GCC, Levant and North Africa) with the announcement of our newest regional micro-fund, 500 Falcons.  

The fund will extend our goal of building a sustainable funding ecosystem in the region by investing in promising new companies and founders. 500 currently has over 30 existing investments in MENA (including Jamalon, Tamatem, Wuzzuf, Fetchr, Edfa3ly, and Shopgo).

500 Falcons will have a target size of $30M USD and focus on seed stage investments between $50,000-$100,000.

We will actively co-invest and syndicate deals with existing funds and angels in the ecosystem, with the goal of investing in 100-200 companies.

Investment areas of focus

  • 12360291_10100803644763280_3150545983364163257_ne-commerce and marketplaces
  • video and Arabic content
  • SaaS
  • mobile
  • fintech
  • hardware
  • IoT

We’ll do follow-on investments of up to $500,000 in the top 20-30% of our companies, with potential additional capital from our main global fund in selected deals.

500 Falcons will be led by 500 Startups Partner Hasan Haider, and in the near future will also include other 500 venture partners in local MENA geographies and markets.

Why 500 Falcons?

We’ve named the fund 500 Falcons as it represents an important aspect of Arab culture. These beautiful, majestic creatures fly fast and agile, exactly like the startups we look to invest in.

Most economies in the MENA region are dominated by the government and large companies, and in the face of a demographic shift, we see an opportunity for this to change. Learn more about why the Middle East needs a funding ecosystem here.

With 60% of the population under the age of 25, the region needs jobs (1).  Startups will lead the transition in economic development for most countries, to go from rentier states to more diversified, self-sustainable economies.

The MENA region represents 20 countries with 410 million people that share a language and culture (2). It generates $3.5 trillion in GDP, the fifth largest country in terms of GDP, just behind the US, China, Japan and Germany (3).

I recently wrote about the importance of a functional funding ecosystem in MENA, where I pointed to the need to focus on building out the funding ecosystem across the region, and support the development of the capabilities of investors in the region rather than just entrepreneurs. 500 Falcons aims to play a critical role in helping that vision come to life.

Where does 500 Startups come in?

Beyond being an active investor and key player in the seed stage, 500 will bridge the gap between MENA and Silicon Valley for both startups and investors.

We also help advise governments and private sector counterparts on how to support and invest in startups and tech.

We will also continue to look for globally-focused startups with traction to bring to our accelerator programs in Silicon Valley, and bring Silicon Valley expertise to the region through our customer acquisition and growth focused Distro Programs for post-seed and pre-series A startups. 

Our Geeks on a Plane tour is also returning to the MENA region on December 5th through the 15th alongside our PreMoney Conference which will be hosted overseas for the first time in Bahrain on December 6.

Yalla help us build the ecosystem!

At 500, we want to bring all players and stakeholders together to develop a robust ecosystem in the MENA region. We need a group of dedicated and motivated investors. We need capable and passionate startups and founders.

We believe in this region and are in this for the long run. 

To learn more about how you can help grow MENA, say hello here.


  1. Based on calculations using the underlying country data from the United Nations 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects as of December 2015.
  2. Based on calculations using the underlying country data from the United Nations 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects as of December 2015.
  3. Based on calculations using the underlying country data from the World Bank’s 2014 GDP Rankings as of December 2015.


Cairo photo credit: Bruno Girin
Amman photo credit: Hassan Bushnaq
Bahrain photo credit: Allan Donque
Dubai photo credit: Nicolas Lannuzel
Riyadh photo credit:Nora.alsh2
Title Art by Yiying Lu

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