Enhance Ventures Launches US$30 Million Builders Fund To Focus On Enterprises In The Fintech And Commerce Sectors The company aims to "create 5,000 high-tech jobs, produce 500 business leaders, train 50 capable founders, and be the institutional co-founder of at least five major exits in the region in the next 5-10 years."

By Pamella de Leon

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Enhance Ventures
Enhance Ventures Partners Alper Celen, Mohammad AlHokail and Ritesh Tilani

Enhance Ventures, a venture studio focusing on the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, Turkey (MENAPT) region, has launched its US$30 million Builders Fund, which will invest exclusively in the studio's upcoming ventures focused in the fintech and commerce space.

Founded in 2016, Enhance Ventures is led by Alper Celen, Ritesh Tilani, and Mohammad AlHokail, and it focuses on building and investing in digital businesses in the MENAPT region. Based in the UAE and KSA, it also has a technology center in Istanbul and satellite offices in Cairo, Amman, and Beirut.

"We support founders materially in the early stages of venture development, when they need help the most," AlHokail says. "This dramatically increases the success rate for startups, and makes entrepreneurship an economic engine for our region… We plan to expedite ecosystem development and increase activity between this ecosystem, starting with Dubai and Riyadh, and other, more developed ecosystems."

According to a release, through the fund, the company aims to "create 5,000 high-tech jobs, produce 500 business leaders, train 50 capable founders, and be the institutional co-founder of at least five major exits in the region in the next 5-10 years." With a focus on finance and commerce ventures, Tilani notes that the team are keen on following current trends in the market, such as Web3, open banking, the move to a cashless society, the need for frictionless consumer and SME finance, and the growth of B2B commerce.

As one of the pioneers in the venture studio space, Enhance has also developed and maintains the Global Studio Map, a comprehensive database of more than 700 venture studios globally. According to Celen, acting as an institutional co-founder, the firm offers entrepreneurs support through its tried and tested venture building methodology, venture architects, technology development, marketing support, human resources capabilities, talent database, seed and follow-on funding and office space, among others. "This approach of shared resources allows us to take any given venture through the stages of ideation, validation, creation, growth and scale up with minimal cost and time," Celen adds.

One of its portfolio companies include Joi Gifts, currently one of the region's largest online gifting marketplaces. The startup had since spun off from the studio 10 months ago after raising capital from investors such as Knuru Capital and Panthera Capital. Other companies include Right Farm, a B2B agritech firm; Clevr, a platform that offers small and medium-sized enterprises with sales and marketing tools; and Blue Terra, an online marketplace that delivers eco-friendly and organic products.

While some note how the global entrepreneurial landscape is facing a funding freeze, Tilani and the team share a timely reminder for entrepreneurs to thrive: "If you recently raised funding, you're in a better position than most founders. Take advantage of it by executing on the plan and growing the business, but doing it sustainably, so that you don't have to worry if the current conditions carry on for a while to come." And if you haven't recently raised but have the option of doing so and extending your runway, take advantage of the option, he adds.

In the meantime, Tilani advises entrepreneurs to focus on the fundamentals of the business. "Optimize on unit economics. Be frugal. Eliminate unnecessary overhead. Improve cash management and reduce working capital requirements. Invest more time in collecting receivables. Renegotiate vendor and supplier contracts. Focus your marketing budget on the most efficient channels. Take advantage of the fact that others have cut their marketing budgets and so there's less competition, thus bringing down your customer acquisition cost. Cutting headcount isn't ideal since it hurts team morale and productivity, so it should be considered as a last resort. But all options should be on the table if the survival of the company depends on it, especially if the team is larger than it needs to be to start off with. This approach will not just help you get through the funding winter, but when things turn around, you will also be one of the first companies to get funded."

Related: Sharjah Media City Chairman Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa Talks Venture Building, Startups, And Success Rates

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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