finance & economy

Omani company invests in two American firms with an eye on sustainable living

February 16, 2021

A group of three childhood friends with diverse backgrounds, yet sharing a common purpose, has decided to make a difference in the ever-changing space of sustainable living in Oman with the focus on food security, energy and health.

The trio has formed Sustainable Investments (SI), a company that has already invested in two US-based tech companies, whichproduce nutritional and health products as well as food and agriculture systems.

Founded by Mohab Ali al Hinai, Badar Awadh al Shanfari and Faris Mohamed al Battashi, the three partners tapped their expertise and global network to bring cutting-edge, meaningful and innovative investment opportunities related to food security, energy and health to Oman.

Hinai is a technology enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in R&D and technology assessment. He has Master’s and PhD degrees in biotechnology. Shanfari is an investment guru with over 15 years of experience in investing and financial services, while Battashi is an energy expert with over 15 years under his belt.

The world’s population is expected to reach 10bn by 2050. Each individual on the planet will have an ecological footprint, that is, they will require land and resources to support their wellbeing and livelihoods, their basic requirements being sustenance, housing, energy and waste disposal. “Thus, the need to find sustainable and environmentally responsible alternatives to meet their growing demands becomes all the more important. Oman is not immune to these global challenges. Our most recent 2020 census revealed that the Omani population increased by 33 per cent since 2010. We must find sustainable and innovative ways to provide food security, energy and healthcare to our growing population,” Hinai said.

With these challenges in mind, the idea of starting SI emerged, Hinai informed. One of the first opportunities identified and pursued by SI was an American biotech startup White Dog Labs (WDL). SI, along with a number of Omani venture capitalists, invested in WDL as they saw the huge upside to this opportunity.

“The US-based startup has developed a proprietary fermentation technology to produce alternative protein and a variety of human and animal nutrition products. WDL is currently applying its broad expertise in anaerobic microbiology, microbiomes and fermentation to address major global challenges, including food sustainability and climate change,” explained Hinai.

In line with its vision of investing in food and agriculture technologies, SI led an Omani investment in AgFunder Fund III, which is based in Silicon Valley, USA. “AgFunder Fund III invests in technologies to rapidly transform our food and agriculture systems. The global trend of the agri-food technology space has seen record-breaking numbers, reaching US$20bn in 2019. Mindful of this trend and the importance of the food and agriculture sector in Oman Vision 2040, SI jumped at the opportunity to be one the first firms in Oman to invest in AgFunder,” said Hinai.

Moving forward, the SI team continues to explore innovative and sustainable solutions in the food, energy and health sectors and seize opportunities to deploy these in Oman.

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