HAIFA, Israel & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Takwin, the first and only VC firm dedicated to championing Arab tech entrepreneurs in Israel, today announced the launch of its second fund to support Israel’s most promising Arab-led high-tech initiatives. The Takwin 2 fund will aim to invest $80 million in early-stage capital for high-potential startups over a five-year term. Backed by the founders of leading VC firms Pitango Ventures and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Takwin will provide funding and programs that accelerate the entrepreneurial journey.
“Arab society is rich with talented young entrepreneurs whose dreams are restricted by the limited opportunities they face in Israel’s high-tech sector,” said Imad Telhami, co-founder and chairman of Takwin. “Geographic and societal factors pose significant but not insurmountable barriers. Addressing these barriers not only helps to advance the aspirations of a large, ignored segment of the population but also advances the collective good of all Israelis, if the high-tech industry is to meet the increasing demands for talent and innovation. We founded Takwin with the principal intention of leveling this playing field and bringing bright, ambitious Arab-Israelis into the fold.”
Arabs presently make up about 20% of Israel’s population, but they only account for 3% of the high-tech workforce, opting instead for careers in health and medicine. Arab-led companies account for just 1.3% of Israeli startups. In recent years, with Israel’s high-tech sector generating an unprecedented number of startups, earning it the nickname Startup Nation, greater focus has been placed on attracting Arabs into the field. Between 2012 and 2020, Arab-Israelis pursuing degrees in high-tech fields more than doubled, and more than 25% of Arabs entering these fields are women.
“It’s not enough to invest money in Arab entrepreneurs in Israel,” said Itzik Frid, Takwin’s managing partner and CEO. “They also need resources, like office space outside of the country’s main technology hubs and closer to where they live. They need connections to people and organizations that can help them succeed. They also need success stories so they and their families can see what can be achieved and to give them the courage to dream. This is where Takwin comes in.”
The launch of the Takwin 2 fund comes on the heels of the success of its initial investment fund. Takwin 1 launched in 2015 with investments in transformative ventures spanning the fields of autonomous vehicles, agriculture, seismology, nanotechnology, and more. Portfolio companies, including SOOS, OvoTech, Feelit and Imagry, have received considerable global recognition. The portfolio’s total value grew from $6.2 million at the initial investment to $61.3 million in 2019 and $179.9 million by 2021. The fair market value of Takwin’s holdings grew from $10.5 million in 2019 to $30.8 million in 2021.
“Takwin was a significant part of our early success,” said Yael Alter, founder and CEO of SOOS, an agriculture startup that impacts the sex determination of chicken embryos for the layer industry. “Beyond the seed funding they provided, Takwin was and continues to be an invaluable partner, providing us with guidance, resources, and network connections. With their support, we have been able to expand from the Arab village of Kaokab Abu-Alhija in northern Israel to research facilities in upstate New York, Belgium and Italy.”
Beyond the fund, Takwin’s other initiatives are designed to help fuel the high-tech talent pipeline. The 3D Generation program, a comprehensive eight-month pre-investment course, gives Arab-Israeli entrepreneurs the tools needed to develop a growth mindset and achieve success. The program was created in collaboration with Reichman University and the Israel Innovation Authority.
“We’re challenging Arabs to ‘Dream, Dare, Compete, and Deliver – something they haven’t really been given the opportunity to do,’” said Fadi Sidwan, VP of marketing and business development. “With our partners and investors, we are creating a seismic shift in thinking and creating a lasting positive impact on Israel both socially and economically. When we all work together, we all win.”
Takwin is the Haifa-based VC firm championing high-tech Arab start-ups in Israel and enabling them to accelerate their transition from high potential to high growth. Founded in 2015 by Imad Telhami, Takwin Ventures represents a first-of-its-kind cooperative venture between the founders of Israel’s most prominent VCs, Chemi Peres (Pitango Venture Capital) and Dr. Erel Margalit (Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP)). By fostering an established Arab presence in Israel’s high-tech industry, Takwin seeks to create a strong foundation for Arab-Israelis to contribute to “Start-up Nation” and bolster Israel both socially and economically. Takwin empowers the next generation of Arab-Israeli entrepreneurs to “Dare, Dream, Compete, and Deliver” through its Takwin 1 and Takwin 2 funds. These funds offer early-stage startups a combination of monetary support, office space, research assistance, and connections to invaluable professional networks. Its growing portfolio includes game-changing businesses such as SOOS, OvoTech, Feelit, and Imagry.