People Equity Fund, a talent investor platform for emerging markets, has raised USD 12.5 million for its first fund, it told MENAbytes, saying that the USD 15 million fund will invest in people to help them become founders. The fund did not share the details of its limited partners, but told MENAbytes that they’re GCC-based family offices. The fund is currently also in discussions with some institutional investors and regional corporates, and may increase its target size from USD 15 million to a higher amount.
Founded by Rachid Ouaich, Mohammad Raafi Hossain, and Hassan Karimi, People Equity Fund will invest in projects by founders in Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
The first cohort and corresponding investments will commence from October 1 in Bangladesh, with applications opening at the end of July. They’re aiming to launch in Pakistan as well, and then in Morocco and Algeria.
The trio comes share decades of experience in institutional investing, founding, leading startups, and helping governments with different digital initiatives. They seek to identify outlier opportunities by investing at earlier stages and in yet-to-mature markets that are undervalued and underfunded.
“People in emerging markets are tenacious and ambitious, yet overlooked and underfunded by global venture capital. Our vision is to equip these people with capital, knowledge, and networks to create globally successful companies and effectively build ecosystem highways between emerging countries,” noted People Equity Fund in its deck, which was seen by MENAbytes.
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People-stage investments are not new. Investors like Singapore-based Antler and London-based Entrepreneur First have been doing this for a few years. Wamda has also been investing in idea-stage entrepreneurs through its grant-based program Wamda X (its last cohort, however, had startups, not idea-stage entrepreneurs), and Beco Capital has recently rolled out Launch with Beco through which it is investing up to USD 150,000 in exceptional talent to help them build companies from scratch.
But none of these investors are focused on the markets that People Equity Fund is going after. “Our target markets are some of the fastest-growing, yet undervalued markets with a combined domestic market population of over 450 million people. Driven by a young and talented demographic, these countries have been outperforming most emerging economies for years and are named as some of the top 20 countries by 2050 by PwC & Goldman Sachs,” noted People Equity Fund in its deck.
The fund will source what it says will be “ambitious, passionate, and dedicated individuals” to take part in its intensive 12-week capacity building program, where it will help these people start globally successful companies from their local market. The 40 selected individuals throughout the program will receive what it says will be competitive remuneration. Towards the end of the program, participants who are unable to find a co-founder will also have an array of options—join another team, placement with a local corporate partner, or apply for a spot in a future cohort.
After graduation, selected startups will receive USD 25,000 per person as an investment. People Equity Fund will open its applications within the next few weeks.
This article first appeared on MENAbytes.