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Expert Voices: Global Ventures' Noor Sweid

Oct 13, 2022
Photo illustration of Noor Sweid and abstract shapes

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Entrepreneur Middle East

Today we're talking to Noor Sweid, the founder and general partner of Global Ventures.

Why she matters: Sweid's firm invests primarily in emerging markets across Africa and the Middle East that are often overlooked by larger firms.

  • Many of the founders Sweid invests in are not pitching sustainability as a business, but incorporate sustainability elements as the cost of doing business in areas that do not have access to affordable power or are battling food insecurity.

The below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What in your view has been the big story in clean energy/climate tech this week?

  • The global unfolding of Europe's energy crisis and its wider ripple effect. For example, Bangladesh's massive blackout on October 4 affected 130 million people who were cut from access to power for a total of seven hours.
  • This illustrates the disproportionate impact the gas crisis has had on developing countries. Europe and the U.S. have priority on the limited supplies available, leaving emerging markets with inflated gas prices and limited quantities. In a single year, the price of LNG rose 60%.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • While true, this only paints a quarter of the picture. While geopolitical events in Europe have certainly exacerbated the challenge, what Europe is facing is what 6 billion people in emerging markets have been facing for decades. Challenges with energy — especially access — have been a consistent reality for emerging market countries. Indeed, of the 758 million people around the world without access to an electricity source, 80% are in the Middle East and Africa, creating a ripple effect impacting food security and access to water.

By contrast, what is not receiving the attention you feel it deserves?

  • The stories of private companies from the Middle East and Africa that are proactively tackling these challenges for the world. Because of the longstanding nature of these challenges in emerging markets, founders there have focused on innovation to build sustainable solutions from the get-go.
  • Saudi-based Red Sea is one example. Its mission is to address food production in the planet's most inhospitable, resource-strapped desert environments. Red Sea's saltwater and sunlight-based agriculture systems save 300 liters of freshwater per kilogram of produce and reduce energy requirements tenfold. This is a solution for the region and the world, with the company currently implementing its agriculture system in harsh environments such as Arizona in the U.S.

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate-tech investing?

  • Pay closer attention to frontier markets and the solutions its entrepreneurs are building for the world.
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