Istanbul, Turkey, August 26, 2021—A timely investment will help strengthen the start-up ecosystem in Turkey and several other Southeast European markets, promoting competitiveness and innovation in critical export-oriented sectors while also catalyzing investment in women-owned/led businesses.
IFC is investing $2 million in 500 Istanbul's Fund II, an early-stage venture capital fund focusing on seed-stage technology companies, through the IFC Startup Catalyst Program. Fundraising opportunities in Southeast Europe, especially long-term, is limited when compared to most other emerging markets. Further, early-stage venture capital funds have higher risk perception among investors. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, IFC's support will help build a resilient start-up ecosystem and a strong foundation for venture capital markets across the target countries.
"As the country with the fastest-growing developer pool in EMEA, Turkey is home to a high level of skilled human capital. Despite the limited access to funding over the past few years, Turkey experienced immense liquidity from tech-related M&A thanks to its strong talent base" said, Enis Hulli, General Partner at 500 Startups Istanbul. "Our investment thesis relies heavily on investing in locally incubated early-stage teams building a solution for the global market, and this has proven to deliver outsized returns."
Fund II will invest in companies that focus on information technology or engineering technology-enabled products in various sectors. Fund II's target size is $30 million, 80 percent of which will be deployed in Turkey and the remaining 20 percent in Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria, to support 25 seed-stage companies.
"Supporting the development of early-stage ecosystems, especially during the pandemic, is critical to creating a constant and quality pipeline of investment opportunities that venture capital investors depend upon," said Arnaud Dupoizat, IFC Country Manager for Turkey. "IFC's investment with 500 Istanbul is aimed to support the promising and vibrant start-up ecosystem in Turkey and will be our first Startup Catalyst funding in Southeast Europe."
IFC's financing will be complemented by a EUR 500,000 co-investment from The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). This will help accelerate support to early-stage high-impact women-owned or managed start-ups, which are a focus of the Fund. Turkey has one of the lowest female workforce participation rates among countries with a similar income level.
IFC will also support the 500 Istanbul with developing and implementing an Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS), which will include an environmental and social (E&S) policy and formalized E&S risk management processes.
Launched in 2016, IFC's Startup Catalyst Program aims to invest in approximately 20 accelerators, incubators, seed funds, and other similar vehicles that support entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. These will, in turn, provide seed funding for technology-enabled startups to support entrepreneurs and their early-stage companies as well as to facilitate the development of technology ecosystems to address the digital divide.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org
About Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among the 14 governments that have made financial contributions, six multilateral development banks that serve as implementing partners, and other public and private stakeholders. We-Fi was formally established in October 2017 as a Financial Intermediary Fund hosted by the World Bank. We-Fi invests in programs and projects that help unlock billions of dollars in financing to address the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring while strengthening policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi Implementing Partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investment and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned/led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit http://www.we-fi.org
About 500 Istanbul
500 Istanbul is an early-stage venture capital fund manager under the broader 500 Startups network focused on defensible technology companies created by Turkish and Eastern European teams. The fund manager's mission is to back seed-stage companies targeting sizeable markets and help them scale globally. 500 Istanbul Fund I, launched in 2016, had 4 exits in its first 4 years, as its portfolio raised more than $500M in follow-on funding and created more than 3,000 jobs. 500 Istanbul's €30M Fund II is managed by Enis Hulli, Arin Ozkula, and Rina Onur, each with strong investment and entrepreneurial experiences over the past decade.