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Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Modus, USAID launch local venture builder to promote digital inclusion

A new venture builder on the scene: MENA-focused venture capital firm Modus Capital and our friends at USAID have launched MV Builder II, an Egyptian venture builder targeting startups working to drive digital inclusion among women and underserved populations, according to a joint statement (pdf) out yesterday.

MV Builder II is sector agnostic, with a focus on financial inclusion: “We’re looking to onboard ambitious founders … and particularly startups focused on boosting financial inclusion, digital literacy, access to equitable healthcare and education, and those reducing the digital gender divide in Egypt,” said Modus Partner Simon Tkachenko.

How it’s funded: USAID is supporting MV Builder II through a “blended finance model” under its Digital Invest program, which aims to mobilize private capital in digital connectivity infrastructure and fintech services in emerging markets. Blended finance is development-speak for using money from an agency such as USAID to attract private capital to a project or investment by effectively de-risking it.

Places are limited: Up to 10 companies will be selected to take part in the program, receiving as much as USD 250k in funding each. Modus’ UAE venture builder, Ventures Lab, received a total of 1.5k applicants, Tkachenko told us.

Interested? Apply here before the 15 December deadline.

Modus likes Egypt — and isn’t fazed by the challenges here: “Egypt is by far the largest [MENA market] in terms of population, and as a result a market opportunity. With Egypt being such a large country, there are complexities with this market that we do not find in other markets we participate in, such as certain regulations around cloud computing or a majority unbanked / underbanked population,” Tkachenko told Enterprise.

REFRESHER- Modus last week launched a USD 75 mn fund, dubbed Modus Africa, that will target early-stage African startups, including a number of local companies. The fund will invest in companies that use AI and blockchain technology and is expected to reach first close in 1Q 2023.

About Modus: Modus has established branches in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and most recently Riyadh, and is supported by backers including Mubadala's Hub71 and USAID. It participated in Egypt-based blockchain email service provider Pravica’s USD 500k pre-seed funding round back in 2020. Modus launched its first Egyptian venture builder in 2019, which ended up graduating eight regional startups including Emirati mentoring platform SmartMentor and the Play:Date social media app for parents.

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