VSQ News: Spring in Our Step

VSQ News is our round-up of exciting updates, ecosystem activities and content curated by the VSQ Team

It’s been a year since we started working from home, 365 days since we first inked Our VSQ Reflections While Staying Home and started our journey on the Substack platform. Our community of readers grows every day; we are thankful for your presence and we welcome your feedback always.

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FinTech Roundtable

In this virtual roundtable organised by the Bahrain Development Bank and co-hosted by Venturesouq and Al Waha Fund of Funds, Suneel Gokhale, Founding Partner at VentureSouq shared his vision for FinTech globally and in the region alongside Sam Hodges, Co-Founder and CEO at Vouch Insurance along with Peter Ackerson, General Partner at FinVenture Capital. Embedded finance, crypto, market liquidity and SPACs were among the topics covered in this insightful session. 

22nd Century Today Summit: Game Changers

In late February, Sonia Weymuller, Founding Partner at VentureSouq and Partner Lead for the VSQ Conscious Collective moderated a panel on the topic of ‘Investing in Emerging Markets’ at the 22 Century Today Summit. She was joined by three of her Kauffman Fellows—Ik Kanu, Founding Partner at Atlantica Ventures, Christine Kenna, Partner at Ignia Partners and Michael Lints, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures. This candid panel brought together leading investors who cover SEA, Africa, LatAm and MENA and served to highlight the common thread of challenges both startups and emerging fund managers in these markets face. 

Sonia Gokhale, Founding Partner at Venturesouq also shared her insights at 22 Century Today Summit’s private roundtable on FinTech.

Virtual Office Hours

We spent 2 afternoons meeting some exciting founders at the Virtual Office hours organised by the Al Waha Fund of Funds. These companies are not all after the same thing. Some want to raise capital, but others are trying to identify potential agents or reps in new countries, or talk through new use cases for their products. Most of the companies are FinTech in nature: digital banks, trading platforms, new accounting software. From Q3 2020 - Q1 2021, we have witnessed an incredible proliferation of FinTech related startups, suggesting that the region is at a clear inflection point.

Atlantic Council Middle East Initiatives-empowerME

We were invited by empowerME, the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Initiative newsletter, to join Issa Aghabi, Founding Partner at Access Bridge Ventures to address their monthly Big Question. You can subscribe to the newsletter here

The First Close: New Voices of Venture

For the podcast lovers, Carta recently launched their podcast series, interviewing new voices in venture about their ambitions and challenges as they aim to redefine the industry. Sonia Weymuller was invited to share VentureSouq’s experience building one of the largest investment platforms in the MENA region and her current focus on collapsing silos between traditional VC and impact investing. You can listen to this #TheFirstClose episode here: https://crt.cx/3visaKH

Tatawwar Accelerator Programme 

Maria Fernandez, Investment Analyst at Venturesouq, was invited as a guest speaker at the fourth session of the Tatawwar Accelerator Programme on the topic of ‘What do  investors look for ?” for the top finalists of the accelerator. She sat down with students from all across MENA to dive into the investors’ investing framework, and explore how these young entrepreneurs could present their innovative projects at the final pitch competition. 

Impact Investment Forum

We recently  spoke on a panel addressing the topic of “What makes MENA markets attractive to impact investors and entrepreneurs''. We were joined by Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta, Executive Director of Market Development at Abu Dhabi Global Markets, Medea Nocentini, Co-Founder of C3 and COO at Global Ventures along with Ara Fernezian, Founder & CEO at Stratecis & Innovate4Good. Maria Fernandez also participated in the pitch competition as a judge. We’re thrilled to see initiatives such as this take place in the UAE!

UAE-France Business Days: Unlocking conscious capital in the UAE

The French Business Council’s annual flagship event took place in March under the patronage of H.E. Xavier Chatel, Ambassador of France to the United Arab Emirates. We participated in this fascinating conversation around conscious capital in the UAE together with key leaders in the corporate, government, and entrepreneurship sectors: Najla Al Midfa (CEO, Sheraa), Dr. Noah Raford (COO, Dubai Future Foundation) and Sabrin Rahman (MD, Head of Sustainability for HSBC Europe, MENA & Turkey). You can watch the replay of this 3-day event here

Q1 2021 State of the US/ MENA Venture Ecosystem

Silicon Valley Bank and MAGNITT hosted the first of many conversations on the US-MENA cross-border startup and private market investing trends. Suneel Gokhale, Partner at VentureSouq , joined top investors and ecosystem stakeholders to talk about current global fundraising market trends, the opportunities that the pandemic highlighted and accelerated. Priya Rajan (Managing Director, SVB) moderated this conversation among Suneel, Andy Tsao (Head of Global Gateway, SVB), Philip Bashoshy (Founder, MAGNITT), Bedy Yang (Managing Partner, 500 startups), Heather Henyon (Founding Partner, Mindshift Capital), Sarah Abu Risheh (Partner, Nuwa Capital), Sharif El Badawi (Managing Partner, Plus VC) and Nader Museitif (Head of Business Development and Partnerships, Hub71

You can watch the recording here


We can’t believe how quickly the spring flew by and we are hopeful for a much awaited summer of (somewhat) normalcy.

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