Iraq's First Independent Technology Fund Launched Through Partnership Between Iraqi Islamic Bank And Singapore-Based Venture Capital Fund MSA Novo

While the newly launched fund's main goal is to invest in the overall technology ecosystem in Iraq, it will focus on allocating capital in areas of fintech.

MSA Novo
Ben Harburg, Managing Partner, MSA Novo (Left), and Ahmed Walid Ahmed, Chairman, Iraqi Islamic Bank for Investment and Development

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Iraqi Islamic Bank for Investment and Development (IIB), one of the foremost banks launched in Iraq, and MSA Novo (MSA), a Singapore-headquartered multi-stage global venture capital (VC) fund that invests in emerging markets, have come together to launch Iraq's inaugural independent technology fund.

While the newly launched fund's main goal is to invest in the overall technology ecosystem in Iraq, it will focus on allocating capital in areas of fintech such as core logistics and payments infrastructure, consumer technology platforms, as well as enterprise enablers.

Investments will therefore not be limited to startups but will also play a direct role in building companies that can merge the technical capabilities and global best practices aggregated by MSA with the local market knowledge and execution capabilities of IIB. In short, the fund's investments are expected to drive the future of Iraq's commerce, financial services, government administration, and healthcare delivery. 

"By collaborating on this initiative to support local businesses, we will strengthen the economy, generate employment, stimulate innovation and add value to the SME sector, the backbone of the local economy," said Ahmed Walid Ahmed, Chairman of IIB. "We are well placed to comprehend the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs in the volatile market, and we will guide, support and create added value to ensure their ventures are fruitful." On his part, Ben Harburg, Managing Partner at MSA, added: "We are excited to partner with IIB as we seek to utilize our global experience, lens, and technology to identify and build the leading technology companies to address the highly attractive Iraqi market."

The senior advisor chosen to guide this partnership is YAG Capital, a London-based firm that identifies niche VC funds and early-stage direct VC deals that match select investor profiles. This initiative aims to not only create value for IIB's investors and the shareholders of IIB, but to also foster more innovation in Iraq's technology landscape.

By funding, building, and mentoring the next generation of Iraqi business leaders, this endeavor thus seeks to lay the foundations for the country's long-term economic and social success. "This partnership will have many tangible advantages for the Iraqi digital economy, including increased efficiency, better productivity, reduced costs, improved communication and transparency," added YAG Capital Chairman Yazen Abu Gulal.

Despite a young, tech-savvy, and well-educated consumer base with relatively high purchasing power, Iraq's population has struggled due to the challenges imposed by outdated or broken infrastructure and fragmented supply chains in the brick and mortar ecosystem. With the launch of this new fund by IIB and MSA -said to be the first of its kind in the country- more capital is expected to be released into the digital infrastructure of Iraq.

The fund has already marked its spot as an active investor, having co-led the funding round for what is known to be Iraq's first super app, Baly- the January 2022 event also marked the country's largest ever funding round in the tech sector. 

Related: How the Saudi Government Has Streamlined The Kingdom for Fintech

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