Islamic Lifestyle

Affinis Labs launches $250 mln seed fund for Muslim entrepreneurs

A $250 million fund for seed and growth stage companies was announced on Monday by Shahed Amanullah, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Affinis Labs, in partnership with Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP) and managed by Elixir Capital.

Targeted at entrepreneurs operating in the $1.9 trillion global Islamic Economy, the fund was launched at the MPowered Summit in Dubai.

Amanullah, who helps organise global hackathons to create social impact businesses and digital tools, and incubate and accelerate start-ups for global markets, said, “We invest in people as much as we do companies.”

MAVCAP Chief Executive Jamaludin Bejung and Elixir co-founder and Managing Director Abrar Hussain Skyped in from Kuala Lumpur and Palo Alto, California, respectively, during Amanullah’s announcement of the seed fund in Dubai.

The fund will provide an “end-to-end ecosystem for start-ups”, Amanullah said, including helping them incorporate financial and management best practice, connecting them with relevant networks and markets, and implementing expansion strategies.

The Virginia-based Affinis Labs brings together people of various talents to generate innovative solutions to global challenges through purpose-driven team competitions where ideas are prototyped, iterated, tested, and pitched to a live audience, an online crowd, and a panel of judges, according to its website.

MAVCAP is considered Malaysia’s largest venture capital fund targeting mainly the ICT sector. Since its inception in 2001, the firm has invested over 1 million Malaysian ringgit into more than 160 companies in Malaysia and Asia, Bujang said in a recent media interview. MAVCAP helped the Malaysian government launch a $100 million fund in July to support Muslim-owned start-ups globally.

Elixir Capital is a private equity fund manager with offices in California, Malaysia and Indonesia. It manages the Straits Fund, a growth equity fund that invests in small businesses poised for expansion and with a connection to Southern Asia.  According to its website, Elixir invests in “businesses that target the rapidly growing middle class and where the application of technology and operational expertise to traditional industries can enable advantage and impact”.

In a separate address at the MPowered Summit, Amanullah urged Muslim entrepreneurs to “take a successful product, add value for your target market, and launch it”.

“Build a product resilient enough to be successful beyond the Muslim market. Get out of the space where you think sticking a Muslim label on something is enough to make it sell.”

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