Zaitoun Ventures, founded by Forsan Hussein and Ami Dror, is a uniquely diverse investment firm. A hybrid investment firm focused on acquiring controlling stakes in small cap companies, Zaitoun also favors companies that benefit the world in some way. Co-founded by a Muslim and a Jew, Zaitoun Ventures puts its money where its mouth is, requiring companies it has invested in to diversify their human capital.
Hussein and Dror agree on the importance of a diverse team. In an interview with ISRAEL21c Hussein points out that “corporate studies show that diversity is beneficial to a company.” Dror backs up his partner — “We believe innovation comes from diversity. The more diverse your company is, the more powerful it is.”
Zaitoun requires all portfolio companies to implement its “30in3” rule. That is, within three years of investment, the companies must strive to reach 30 percent diversification in human capital.
Dror and Hussein frequently travel to Palestinian-controlled areas, where they outsource a lot of their software development. Palestinian coders cost the same as those in India, but in Dror’s opinion they are better overall and more questioning in their approach. They’re also in the same time zone and can meet face-to-face when necessary.
Zaitoun Ventures invested close to $19 million in its first year of existence, and is poised to invest about $100 million in 2016.
“We wanted to create a business that inspires hope but also fulfills its mission to make money. It’s an investment company with values, with a soul,” Hussein told ISRAEL21c in May, 2016. “People like us have a responsibility to do something big.”
According to Dror, “when Palestinian kids see us together they say, ‘What are you doing?’ And then they say, ‘OK, this is something I’ve never seen before.’”
“What a story, if an Arab or Palestinian company were to make an exit,” adds Hussein. “Instead of kids being filled with hatred, fear and ignorance and wanting to dedicate their lives to martyrdom, what if they wanted to be geniuses?”
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