Industry News | May 12, 2017

Four lessons from a $50 million bet on tech startups in the Middle East

The team at


The International Finance Corp. has invested $50 million in the past three years in startups and funds, such as a $70 million Wamda Capital fund, to promote economic inclusion in the Middle East.

The lessons: mixed. “If I get two or three companies out of Wamda, that in my mind is a success,” Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC’s vice president, told Forbes contributor Elizabeth MacBride. “The failure rate in this space is high.”

MacBride’s set of early lessons includes: 1) Tech startups don’t employ many people, but ripple effects can transform industries and create jobs. 2) The impact of venture capital investments are hard to measure. For example, what’s the impact of a successful fintech startup that provides insurance that let’s more women become entrepreneurs?

3) Big exits are possible, but rare. 4) And accelerators can speed growth. The IFC’s investment in Flat6Labs in Cairo has led it to backing accelerators elsewhere.