Investment and impact platform Acasia Group announced the new appointment of Ranya Saadawi as its CEO to oversee the operations and activities of the group’s three business units – Angels, Impact and Ventures.
The Acasia Group is a leading investing and impact platform that aims to invest and support the next generation of technology entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa.
The group is currently made up of three separate yet synergistic businesses, which are Acasia Angels, Acasia Impact, and Acasia Ventures.
Before joining Acasia Group as CEO, Saadawi was the Executive Director of the UAE’s not-for-profit, private sector-led organization Pearl Initiative, with the aim of building transparency, governance and accountability, as well as ESG strategies, across the GCC.
Having kicked off her career as a management consultant on Wall Street, Saadawi pivoted her way into the space of investment, impact, and private sector involvement throughout her 15 years of experience across different functions and countries.
“I left my career on Wall Street because I wanted to find the right balance between business and mission,” she said.
Saadawi went on to work at Ashoka Arab World as Search and Selection Venture Officer while being an Impact Investment Consultant at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
In 2013, she joined the Education for Employment Initiative in Washington D.C., where she managed a US$3 million grant portfolio in Yemen and Palestine, after which she managed expansion efforts and new office openings in the UAE and Saudi Arabia while securing over USD 5 million in new funding.
She also established and led the US$100 million grant management function Expo Live of Expo 2020 Dubai, building a portfolio of 140 global innovators from 76 countries who are developing solutions to the world’s greatest challenges across 14 sectors.
“Acasia Group is a first-mover in the market, as it brings together angel investment, impact, and VC funding, setting up a comprehensive value chain for sustainability, investment, and innovation,” Saadawi said.
“I’m looking forward to leveraging my focus on impact, partnerships, and private sector involvement in order to expand Acasia Group’s presence in more countries across Africa, while also enhancing internal operations to maximize the impact of the Group’s different arms. I’m also looking forward to bringing on more female founders and executive teams into our portfolio.”
As an Egyptian-American, Saadawi was born and raised in the US to Egyptian parents and grew up between New York and Cairo. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from Barnard College, Columbia University and a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Management from LSE.
“My focus was always on how to build bridges across the different cultures that I am part of, and I found that the most useful way to do that was from an economic perspective, supporting in building, growing and scaling businesses that sustain livelihoods,” she explained.
Established in 2011, Acasia (formerly The Cairo Angels) is built by the region, for the region and has three offices in Cairo, Dubai and Lagos.
If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.