startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), has announced the launch of the second edition of the Conscious Investor Fellowship (CIF), in partnership with VentureSouq, Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital unit of the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and The US Mission to the UAE.
Throughout the eight-week pan-regional fellowship, twenty fellows including GCC-based family office funds, venture capitalists, corporate and government investors will be mentored and trained on investing in impact-driven technology startups.
startAD also invites GCC residents with an interest in startup investments to pre-register for the seventh Annual Angel Rising Investor Education Symposium, scheduled to take place in March 2022, where global and local thought leaders gather to discuss what it takes to become an active stakeholder in mission-driven, technology-enabled companies.
Commenting on the second edition of CIF, Ramesh Jagannathan, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYUAD and also Managing Director of startAD, said, “According to the UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021, the value of sustainability-themed investment products in global capital markets amounted to US$3.2 trillion in 2020, up more than 80 percent from 2019. The Conscious Investor Fellowship brings together these changemakers and equips them with the practical knowledge, tools, and network to fuel positive social change by investing in technologies that address pressing global challenges of poverty, inequality, health, and climate change.”
Sonia Weymuller, Founding Partner at VentureSouq, said, “Conscious investing has experienced notable momentum worldwide over the last decade and, while this is starting to garner the attention of major VCs internationally, the space is still at its nascent stages in MENA. Since its inception the mission of the CIF programme was very clear: to nurture the next generation of impactful stakeholders coming out of this region. This has served as a catalyst for a regional dialogue between entrepreneurs, investors, LPs and ecosystem enablers interested in mission-driven tech startups, equipping them with the tools to take agency and align their investments and activities with their values.”
Hattan Ahmed, Head of KAUST Entrepreneurship Centre, said, “At KAUST, we invest and support entrepreneurs to create change in the world – and curate and co-invest within this dynamic ecosystem. We extend this mission to join forces with our partners and build a community of conscious investors who are also looking to create sustainable impact. Through the CIF programme, we’ve met great fellows who are already actively executing impactful investments in the GCC. This year, we welcome Wa’ed, a key VC player in Saudi Arabia, to advance the impact investing agenda.”
For his part, Fahad Alidi, Wa’ed Managing Director, said, “Impact investing is embedded in Wa’ed’s approach to venture capital. We are proud to sponsor the 2021 Conscious Investor Fellowship because it aligns closely with Wa’ed’s mission to build a sustainable, long-term economic future for the Kingdom.”
The inaugural edition of CIF in 2020 saw strong female participation, with 57 percent of the fellows being women. More than 21 collaborations were facilitated between investors and startups, while nine fellows and one sponsor have already joined VentureSouq’s Conscious Collective Fund.
With over 1,200 virtual attendees and 250 active investors during last year’s Angel Rising Investor Education Symposium, the 2022 edition is set to be another success. The platform is dedicated towards nurturing the next generation of mission-driven investors from the GCC.
Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan.