Sarava the Iranian VC has raised $200M of foreign investments so far. Sarava is one of the pioneer VCs in Iran and has more than 30 companies in its portfolio.
Sarava was established in 2011 when there was not much of a hype and interest in startups, especially in e-commerce. Back then there were only a few startups which tried to enter e-commerce and mobile based businesses. But there was no interest in investing in this sector, no sufficient internet speed, not enough experience, not enough tailored talents and no previous knowledge among the people about how e-commerce could touch their lives.
When the interest coming from the bank deposits in Iran were about 25% to 30% (now it’s 15%), and investments in some industries enjoyed fast guaranteed profits, Sarava entered the market with the hope of starting a new wave of investments to breathe life into the Iranian startup scene. At that time Sarava invested in areas with high level of risk and delay in return. Back then there were no legal structures for a VC in Iran meaning that VC funds couldn’t be officially registered in the country. We should also mention that many of the successful startups that we have in Iran right now, launched their business in that time. Even Digikala which was launched in 2006 couldn’t make that much of traction in that period.
Today, Sarava the Iranian VC has raised $200M of foreign investments so far, and shares allocated to Sarava’s foreign investors have reached to 45% collectively. It’s important to mention that the foreign investors are committed to transfer world class-knowledge to Iranian entrepreneurs in order to create more success stories. This announcement is one of the first movements toward transparency in the country. It’s not common in Iran to announce how much capital a company has raised or disclose the shareholdings. We hope with this enhancement of transparency from Sarava, other Iranian companies in the market would pursue the same track . Plus, the world could finally measure the startup activity in the country with actual figures.
Last year, Sarava also succeeded to obtain a license for Arzesh Afarin Sarava VC Fund, with a capital of 50 Billion Tomans (nearly $13M). With the creation of this fund, which is overseen by Iran’s Securities and Exchange Organisation, there will be far more opportunities to support startups and talented teams in their early stages. Sarava has provided this fund with 20% of the initial capital required, giving small and large Iranian investors the opportunity to raise the rest of the investment.
Attracting foreign investment, together with the formation of VC funds in Iran, will lead to growth in value and job creation by Iranian entrepreneurs, thus empowering them to compete with multinational companies regionally and worldwide.