The Future of Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa

The AMENA Center for Entrepreneurship and Development hosted a 2 part speaker series co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and TechWadi.
Our first event, Fueling Technological Innovation was held Wednesday, April 16th from 5.30-7pm at the Sultan Conference room (340 Stephans Hall.)
Nasim Novin, managing director at Endeavor, and Naeem Zafar, industry fellow at the Sutardja Dai Center for Entrepreneurship and technology discussed technology trends in the region, investigated what industries are transforming the landscape and examined future opportunities for innovation in the region. The audience asked questions regarding the current security situation in Egypt and its impacts on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the interplay between new policy and progress, and the role of the diasporic community in circulating the brain drain.

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Part II of the AMENA Center Spring 2018 speaker series “The Future of Entrepreneurship in the Middle East,” in partnership with TechWadi and the UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies The Center for Entrepreneurship and Development in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa at the Haas School of Business aims to build a bridge between the Silicon Valley and AMENA by sharing resources and fostering collaboration. In order to facilitate mutual understanding between the AMENA entrepreneurial ecosystem and the greater UC Berkeley campus, the AMENA Center is hosting a Speaker Series on The Future of Entrepreneurship in the Middle East in partnership with TechWadi and the Center for Middle East Studies at UC Berkeley. Geared towards students and professionals alike, Sharif El-Badawi, Partner at 500 Startups, and Mohannad Khairy, investor in MENA startups at E11 Capital, will discuss the VC ecosystem and startup scene in the region. With investment in the region rising from $5 Million USD in 2012 to $1.488 billion USD in 2016 the way money is flowing is dramatically fueling innovation and bringing visibility to the region as a technological hub. The event will be followed by a Q & A session. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Dariush Zahedi, the executive director of the AMENA Center for Entrepreneurship and Development.


Mohannad Khairy

Mohannad Khairy is the Managing Partner at E11 Capital, a San Francisco and Dubai-based venture capital firm investing in companies tackling the world’s greatest challenges.

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With over 15 years experience in international business development, innovation strategy and technology investment, Mohannad focuses on identifying and supporting solutions applicable to industries that are infrastructural in nature. Prior to forming E11, Mohannad was an international executive, entrepreneur and innovation advisor. In 2002 he began his career in institutional sales with Montreal-based investment research firm BCA, where he quadrupled his book of business before it was acquired by Euromoney. In 2006 he went to Dubai to help build, the MENA-focused business intelligence and market data company, before its acquisition by Thomson Reuters Group in 2012. In the Bay Area since the end of 2011, Mohannad joined Plug & Play Tech Center, the world’s largest startup accelerator, and led corporate and government partnerships, investments and startup programs in a number of countries around the world. He then formed NXT Innovation, a boutique innovation consulting firm in SF, Paris and Milan, brokering the adoption of technology solutions between Fortune 500 companies, governments and pioneering startups. Mohannad is a firm believer in utilizing venture capital for long-term value creation. He regularly talks about collaborative capital, responsible internationalization, and how to cultivate sustainable, entrepreneur-friendly ecosystems. He is currently an active member of the board of directors at The Arab Film & Media Institute, a 501c3 organization based in San Francisco and Los Angeles, producing the largest Arab Film Festival outside the Arab world He is also on the board of Localized, an ed-tech startup enabling universities in emerging economies to connect their students and recent alumni to role models and career guidance from top professionals in their Diaspora. Mohannad completed his degree in both Economics and Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Dariush Zahedi

Dariush Zahedi is Director of the AMENA Center for Entrepreneurship and Development at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

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Since 2001, he has taught a diverse array of courses for the Departments of Political Science, Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. Zahedi has also taught for the College of Letters and Science’s Discovery Courses Program. Teaching in the program is by invitation only, with invitations issued solely to instructors whose teaching record is stellar. He has published three books on the political economy of the Middle East, and his articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, and Middle East Policy, among others. He is the co-editor of four book series for Palgrave Macmillan, including Institution Building in West Asia and North Africa, the Political Economy of Islam, Natural Resources Management in West Asia and North Africa, and Financial Institutions, Reforms, and Policies in West Asia and North Africa. His knowledge of the political economy and business milieu of the Middle East and North Africa, however, is not purely academic. He has worked for a Middle Eastern investment bank and Iran’s largest private mining corporation. In his capacity as an analyst for the investment bank, he traveled widely throughout the region, and became intimately familiar with various sectors of the region’s economies as well as impediments to inclusive growth and democratization. Zahedi has also worked as an academic in Turkey.

Sharif El-Badawi

Sharif El-Badawi currently serves as Partner at 500 Startups, the most active venture capital firm in the world.

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In his role, he manages 500 Startups’ MENA fund, focusing on seed stage investments in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, Sharif is the Chairman of the Board and Head Mentor at TechWadi, where he leads the TW100 mentors and helps bridge MENA startups with Silicon Valley and serves on several advisory boards for startups in the MENA region and Silicon Valley. Previously, Sharif was the Partner Lead to VCs and Startups at Google where he worked with top tier VCs and their most promising startups on strategies that bring all of Google to their businesses. Joining from AdMob almost 7 prior, he led performance advertising strategy for Google’s largest customers in North America covering Mobile, Search and Display ads. Before AdMob, Sharif was a technologist and serial entrepreneur having founded or co-founded several companies in the Consumer Internet and B2B space over twelve years. Sharif earned his MBA from UC Irvine Merage School of Business and his BS in Neuroscience from UCLA. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three children.