Dubai-based Abraaj Capital launched on Sunday a $50m fund to help finance small and medium-sized Jordanian firms, part of a $300-$400m regional fund to invest in the largest business sector in the Arab world.
"We are looking for companies with proven business models with some revenue," Abdullah Shahin, a partner in Abraaj Capital told Reuters.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Gulf firms were major investors in the Jordan fund that would take influential minority equity participation in a dozen firms, with financing ranging between $700,000 to $5.5m, Shahin said.
"The SMS sector in the region employs 70 to 80 percent but only contributes 20-30 percent of GDP so you can see the productivity gap," Shahin said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting at the Dead Sea.
Abraaj is one of the Middle East's biggest private equity firms, managing assets of over $6bn.