(MENAFN Press) Washington, D.C., 22 May 2012: Siraj Fund Management Company (Siraj) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government's development finance institution, concluded an agreement providing 30 million in financing to the first private equity fund designed to invest in companies operating in the Palestinian Territories. The fund will inject much-needed capital into small business enterprises across a variety of sectors of the Palestinian economy.
The Siraj Palestine Fund 1 is designed to invest in start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, with a focus on companies with the potential to become market leaders or expand their operations internationally. The new Siraj fund was one of five funds approved by OPIC's Board of Directors in June 2010 as part of President Barack Obama's initiative to provide U.S. support for technological development in Muslim countries. OPIC selected as fund manager Siraj Fund Management Company, a Ramallah-based company owned by Massar International. The fund had an initial target capitalization of 80 million, but ultimately raised 90 million, including the OPIC financing.
Siraj Palestine Fund I has already invested in four companies “ PalGaz, a gas distribution company endeavoring to become a market leader in liquefied petroleum gas distribution; Wassel, a logistics and distribution services company; Nakheel, an agricultural products company specialized in the production and sale of Medjool dates; and Ziadeh Consulting and Engineering, an engineering firm that provides architectural design, supervision and project management services. In addition to these four initial investments, five more were approved in April 2012 and many more promising deals are in the pipeline.
Massar International Chairman and fund General Partner Bashar Masri stated, "OPIC's much needed support of the Siraj Palestine Fund I comes at a crucial juncture for the Palestinian economy. Access to capital for infrastructure expansion and operational upgrades is the missing link for dozens of viable Palestinian companies. Without it, they cannot meet domestic demand, innovate or compete successfully in the international marketplace. Strengthening key industry players across multiple sectors will ultimately make the entire Palestinian economy more robust."
OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield added, "A viable private equity sector and small business financing infrastructure are two telltale developments in the growth of any emerging market. The fact that Siraj Palestine Fund I contributes to both is an outstanding feature of this investment fund. It will help to unleash the potential of Palestinian businesses, while promoting technological advancements and sustainable development."
The signing of the financing agreement in Washington, D.C. took place at the opening of the OPIC meeting of general partners managing OPIC-supported private equity investment funds, hosted by the agency's Investment Funds Department.