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Global Ventures is looking for climate's leapfrog moments

A screengrab of Megan Hernbroth's online interview with Noor Sweid.

Megan Hernbroth, of Climate Deals, interviews Global Ventures managing partner Noor Sweid.

Predicting the future is a fraught endeavor. The team at Global Ventures takes a more narrow view by asking how the next five years might look different from last five years.

Why it matters: That approach has spurred a series of successful investments for the Dubai-based firm, which largely focuses on companies in the Middle East and Africa.

  • Managing partner Noor Sweid talked with Axios' Megan Hernbroth last week in Axios Pro's latest subscriber-only conversation. We've got key excerpts here:

Sustainability through necessity: "Vertical farming is just so much energy and so much water and we can't afford that as a region. And so the technology that grows out of that is, really, the ability to reduce the amount of power used to desalinate saltwater by 95%.

  • "So, ultimately, you end up in a business that uses 95% less power and water to vertically farm products — but that wasn't because a founder went out to solve climate, it's because of the fundamentals of food security and power."

Waiting for the "leapfrog" moments: "We're still in a part of the world that doesn't have infrastructure. ... Twenty-five years before, we didn't have phone lines, which is why we were able to go straight into mobile telephony."

  • "You end up with this leapfrogging.... 'How do I build without using power and energy and consuming that product that is a commodity globally but is regionally very hard to get and very expensive?"

Five years ago vs. five years from now: "That's how we look at this, as an inflection point.

  • "We marry that with, at a macro level, what's happening — the de-globalization, the supply chain challenges and so on — and on a grassroots level what's happening.
  • "Where those two merge, you find really interesting opportunities."

The sectors they're watching: "The software behind vertical farming. How do you address the needs for energy?

  • "Energy management: In a world where you have 758 million people without power and 80% of those live in the Middle East and Africa, how are you going to sell for power? You're not going to go and build massive grids."
  • "Supply chain and manufacturing: We import almost everything still. What does manufacturing look like if we're going to build out our own facilities going forward? That is 3D printing, that is additive manufacturing."

The Middle East and North Africa today are Silicon Valley 30 years ago: "When you look over the region, there really isn't much capital. We have about $200 million AUM in a market that's $2.5 billion.

  • "There's opportunity like venture in the Bay Area in the '80s and '90s. ... It's Latin America 15 years ago. There's a huge opportunity going forward, especially as this population comes of age."
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