Angel Rising: Conscious Investing and Catalyzing Technology for Good

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1000+ participants

250+ registered investors

Avg. 4 angel investments per individual

Avg. $37000 investment per startup

36+ startup pitches

Angel Rising organized jointly by startAD, the global startup accelerator of NYU Abu Dhabi and investment platform VentureSouq, has grown to be a leading voice demystifying and encouraging the cause of technology startup investments from the UAE.

This 6th edition of Angel Rising, in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), focused on the topic of ‘Conscious Investing and Catalyzing Technology for Good’. The symposium convened global and local thought leaders in the startup community in order to build awareness, access, and a better understanding of what it takes to become an investor into mission-driven technology enabled companies.

This year Angel Rising took place virtually as the culmination of the core modules of the Conscious Investor Fellowship.

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Vidya Vasu-Devan

Director, Strategic Investment Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Rehana Nathoo

Founder and CEO, Spectrum Impact
Spectrum Impact logo

Claudine Emeott

Senior Director, Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund
sales force logo

Caitlin Dolkart

Flare Emergency Response Technologies
Flare Emergency Response logo

Tito Ovia

Co-founder and Head of Growth, Helium Health
Helium Health logo

Ik Kanu

Founding Partner, Atlantica Ventures
Atlantica Ventures logo


Alexander Gershenson

CEO, SupplyShift
SupplyShift logo

Aby Sam Thomas

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East
Entrepreneur Middle East




November 24
Event Time Speaker(s) Moderator Description
Welcome Address
6:05 – 6:10 PM John Tate (CEO of Tamkeen)
The Acceleration of Impact Investing: The State of the Market 6:10 – 7:00 PM Rehana Nathoo (Founder and CEO, Spectrum Impact) In the decade of its existence, impact investing has grown to be a $700 Billion industry. The industry attracted record funding in the year 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shifted attention to the most pressing challenges of our time. Drawing on her experience with working with the biggest names in the ecosystem, Rehana Nathoo reflects on the evolution and state of the impact industry—its past, present and future.
Break 7:00 – 7:15 PM
When Impact Outlasts your Investment Horizon 7:15 – 8:00 PM Vidya Vasu-Devan (Director, Strategic Investment Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Claudine Emeott (Senior Director, Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund), Ik Kanu (Founding Partner, Atlantica Ventures) Sonia Weymuller (VentureSouq) With insights from leading Foundations, Corporate Funds and VCs, this panel explores the spectrum of sustainable investing and how lasting impact is created across industries and asset classes. The panel delves into how impact investing isn’t solely an asset class, but an ethos that can be applied across industries and markets by balancing risk and intentionality.



November 25
Event Time Speaker(s) Moderator Description
Panel: Optimizing Profit Through Purpose 6:00 – 6:45 PM Caitin Dolkart (Co-Founder, Flare), Alexander Gershenson (CEO, SupplyShift), Tito Ovia (Co-founder & Head of Growth, Helium Health) Aby Sam Thomas (Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East) Combining the invisible hand of markets with the invisible heart of markets, this panel offers a showcase of remarkable entrepreneurs who have harnessed the power of technology to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time. Cutting across industries and geographies, these inspiring founders are creating scalable impact alongside profits for their communities and investors.
Break 6:45 – 7:00 PM
Pitching Session 1 & 2 7:00 – 8:00 PM Pulse, Cycled, Jade Autism, Red Sea Farms, UrbanKisaan, Edama Hana Barakat (Interim Director, startAD) & Jeremy Shorter (Program Lead, startAD) Watch live pitches from exceptional startup founders leveraging technology for the greater good – this includes a Q&A moderated by seasoned investors, enabling participants to understand how to assess a pitch and what key questions to ask when assessing an investment opportunity in this space.
Closing Notes 8:00 – 8:15 PM Ramesh Jagannathan (startAD)


Highlights from Previous Angel Rising Events

The Whole World Is Open For Business & MENA Should be Right in the Middle of it

April 25 2019

Opinion: How to fund the growth of the region’s entrepreneurs

16 March 2019

GCC-based entities unite to launch region’s first conscious investor fellowship

24 September 2020

Angel Rising inspires entrepreneurial innovation for local angel investors

24 March 2019

Putting The Middle East Back In The Middle (As The World Order Shifts East)

March 11 2019

The rise of UAE’s angel investment ecosystem

March 26 2018


Learn about…

Investing in Social Good Is Finally Becoming Profitable

Impact investments are outperforming traditional bets in the coronavirus crisis, which may be a turning point for wealthy investors looking to generate change.

How Impact Investors Actually Measure Impact

“Outlines some of the practices and methodologies used by Bridges and other impact investors to measure social impact alongside financial return.”

Almost everything you know about impact investing is wrong

“Growing confusion about impact investing’s key principles and practices has it headed for a fall.”

Unpacking the Impact in Impact Investing

“This article is addressed to impact investors who want to know whether their investments will actually contribute to achieving their social or environmental objectives.”

Three Trends in System-level Impact Investing

Charting the course on impact investing

Manual for impact investors. Very similar to the Rockefeller Foundation Report.

What good is impact investing?

Analysis of the growth of the impact investing landscape from it’s inception to it’s present state.

Impact Investing won’t save capitalism

Pitfalls of the present impact investing landscape and how to address them.

Impact Investing Handbook: An Implementation Guide for Practioners

Scott Taitel – NYU Professor and prospective speaker is one of the authors.

Are We Investing in Things That Really Matter?

“As investors, our primary responsibility is to deliver a high IRR. As humans, our responsibility is to leave the planet better than how we found it. Luckily, we’re at a moment in history when these two opportunities overlap.”

The truth behind the trend of impact investing

Cursory overview of the impact investing landscape.

Does Impact Investing always come at a price?

Debunks the social versus financial returns dichotomy.

Impact Weighted Financial Accounts

Impact-weighted accounts are line items on a financial statement, such as an income statement or a balance sheet, which are added to supplement the statement of financial health and performance by reflecting a company’s positive and negative impacts on employees, customers, the environment and the broader society.

Earth Day Week – Alessandra Sollberger

Great video explaining the framework about investing into the future through impact investing (if we stopped oil and gas tomorrow, the problem will not be solved). We are going towards utopia, rather than allowing for dystopia. “I want people to spend more time thinking about the solutions rather than the problem, the problems have been extensively talked about!”

Making a Better Business Case for ESG

Author is an NYU Professor- “Without clearer insight into the financial benefits of corporate sustainability efforts, they may never be scaled up in the face of climate change, COVID-19, inequality, and many other perceived or real challenges to a company’s bottom line.”

Is Sustainable Investing Moving into the Mainstream?

Insights from the HBR-UBS “ESG: Do You or Don’t You?”

Social-Impact Efforts That Create Real Value

Exploring the rise of sustainability reporting amongst public companies in the US.

The Investor Revolution

Survey results from a survey of senior execs at US financial firms. ESG and Sustainability are almost unanimously top of their agenda. The article digs deeper into the causes as well. Good overview of the ESG+Impact Landscape.

Why it’s time to finally worry about ESG

Robert Eccles, a visiting professor of management practice at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, says that the global investment community’s interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues has finally reached a tipping point.

Sustainable Funds Continue to Rake in Assets During the Second Quarter

US ESG fund flows have already nearly matched last year’s record despite the pandemic.

The dubious appeal of ESG is for dupes only

Environmental, social and governance investing is ascendant. Its mirror image, stakeholder capitalism, is now the standard mantra on boards and in executive suites. It is here to stay.

Where ESG Fails

ESG is not enough, many social-impact driven ventures do not comply with quality ESG. What investors are missing is that these ESG standards need to be EMBEDDED in the business model of companies “The reason is that these criteria have been developed without regard to the causal link between a company’s social impact and its bottom line”. This has stopped […]

Audrey Choi: How to make a profit while making a difference

Audrey Choi is the Chief Marketing Officer and Shicef Sustainability Officer or Morgan Stanley. This powerful talk by one of the leading figures of ESG and impact investing reflects on the power of individuals, consumers and investors, to turn the financial market into the platform for social change that is needed in the world.

Everything is ESG now

Unpacking ESG, ETFs and the difference between active and passive investments in the ESG space.

Larry Fink isn’t going to read your sustainability report

If sustainability is going to become such an important factor for any investment, there is a dire need to change the way companies communicate with investors about sustainability, and the benchmarks investors need to use from now on. This brings us to the idea that we need a new “language” of investing: incorporating impact on the shared value, impact-weighted accounts.

Sustainability as Blackrock’s New Standard for Investing

Details on how Blackrock is going to incorporate ESG and sustainability into their portfolio construction and risk mitigation strategy

A Fundamental Reshaping of Finance

Larry Fink’s letter to the CEOs : Links climate change to long-term effects for shareholder/investors from an institutional voice and validates the idea that traditional finance concepts are being challenged by climate change awareness, or lack thereof.

Larry Fink and the Time’s podcast: can corporations stop climate change?

Podcast on Larry Fink’s Letter to Investors of 2020.