Al Waha Fund of Funds, managed by Bahrain Development Bank, and international investment firm Hambro Perks have announced the launch of HP Spring Studios, the MENA region’s first fintech venture studio. HP Spring Studios, which will be based out of its new headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, represents a significant boost for MENA’s fintech and startup ecosystem.
The studio will both co-found and invest directly into next generation fintech startups with exceptional entrepreneurs. An in-house team covering the full capability spectrum across product, engineering, and operations will help accelerate startups towards product/market fit. Startups will work closely with Al Waha & Hambro Perks’ local and global network of private and public institutions, including National Bank of Bahrain, Mumtalakat, and Batelco, to drive customer traction and secure future funding rounds to exit. HP Spring Studios is strategically located in Bahrain, where startups will benefit from a fintech friendly regulatory environment and close relationships with the Central Bank of Bahrain and Bahrain Economic Development Board, to enable rapid launch to market. Bahrain will also act as an ideal location to serve the rest of the MENA region.
Hambro Perks, headquartered in London, with offices in Riyadh, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, has built, invested into, and accelerated 145+ technology startups globally. The firm has a specific focus on fintech, having invested into companies like Sarwa, Tide, and ByMiles. This, coupled with the firm’s highly experienced London and MENA based investment teams, make it ideally suited to accelerate fintech in the region.
The studio aims to create new highly skilled jobs in Bahrain for both local and international talent, on both its core team and at the startups it helps to launch. HP Spring Studios will not only focus on attracting highly skilled international talent, but also on training local talent through upskilling, internships, and educational initiatives in partnership with local institutions.
With the launch of the new studio, Hambro Perks will be an active member of Bahrain’s fintech ecosystem, investing, developing talent, participating in events, and promoting Bahrain as an investment destination. Areije Al Shakar, Director & Fund Manager at Al Waha, commented: “We are proud to be part of this initiative which will prove a valuable resource to both local entrepreneurs and communities who will benefit from new fintech solutions in Bahrain. Al Waha was founded to help startups overcome challenges around access to funding. HP Spring Studios will significantly enhance the region’s fintech ecosystem, not only empowering startups, but also helping to materially improve the way people save, send, lend, manage, and invest their money.”
She added: “We are excited about the future of fintech startups in the MENA region and look forward to working alongside our partners and extensive network to support the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in their journeys.”
Dominic Perks, Chief Executive at Hambro Perks, commented: “The opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop fintech solutions to help address the MENA region’s challenges has never been more compelling. To date, high barriers to entry have been limiting the potential for innovation. HP Spring Studios exists to solve for the problems experienced by founders in the region. Once portfolio startups are ready to scale, the studio and Hambro Perks will bring in trusted global co-investors to the Bahrain-based operational companies, not only creating further jobs, but also facilitating capital inflows and attracting further talent and investors to Bahrain.”
The Middle East fintech ecosystem is developing quickly and the market has witnessed an influx of startups and funding support in the sector in recent months. The number of fintech companies is expected to reach 465 in the region this year, up from 30 in 2017.
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