Hoda Abou-Jamra has forged a successful investment career in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, driven by her previous experience in U.S. and European pharma and life science business development, as well as fundraising for U.S. and European life science investment firms. She was the driving force behind the establishment of TVM Capital in the MENA region from 2007 onwards and co-founded TVM Capital Healthcare Partners in 2009. Since then, she led the successful closing of TVM Healthcare MENA I Fund and has made major contributions to the firm’s strategy and corporate development. Establishing international partnerships with world class medical and clinical institutions and generating deal flow are some of her additional contributions to the firm’s investment and portfolio building activities. In the portfolio, Hoda contributes in her areas of key strength in operational roles, such as at ProVita International Medical Center’s executive committee, as well as at board level. She currently holds board positions at Manzil Health Care Services, a dedicated provider of professional home care and home nursing services headquartered in Abu Dhabi, as well as Bourn Hall International, a chain of fertility clinics in Dubai, Delhi and Kochi, the international arm of renowned Bourn Hall Clinic in the UK who invented the IVF procedure. Additionally, as an advocate of and passionate about social impact investing and promoting diversity, she is engaged on the U.S. as well as the UAE as Member of the Dubai Business Women’s Council, Founding Chair of the 30% Club GCC Chapter, Member of the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation (WBL).
TVM Capital Healthcare Partners established its presence in Dubai in 2007 and was incorporated in 2009. The firm is as part of TVM Capital Group, an affiliation of globally acting venture capital and private equity firms with an operating track record of 30 years. The firm is focusing on making highly specialized growth capital and small buyout investments in healthcare companies in emerging markets that are or target to become leaders in their regional markets. The firm has assembled a strong team of investment professionals who are supported by a group of healthcare operators as executives-in-residence in its accelerator company, TVM Operations Group, and TVM Healthcare Advisors, which provides healthcare focused research and advisory services. Collectively, this team has developed an ability to conceptualize and develop business opportunities that provide investors with completely proprietary deal flow and investment opportunities. TVM Capital Healthcare Partners operates out of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and is licensed and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
TVM Capital Healthcare was established back in 2007, incorporated in 2009 and was the region’s first private equity firm dedicated to the healthcare sector. With six years of operations as a licensed fund manager, how has the firm developed and grown in the region since then? What are some of the milestones TVM Capital Healthcare has witnessed?
We made five investments between February 2010 and December 2014 and in June 2015 had our first exit when we sold ProVita International Medical Center to NMC Health. Our investment in ProVita closed an important gap in the UAE’s healthcare infrastructure and was the first of its kind in the Middle East. The excellent work of the center’s talented management team, physicians, therapists and nurses has made a true difference to the quality of life of patients and the social fabric of the community.
We have capitalized on opportunities in the GCC and Egypt as well as India, to create and consolidate small and mid-market operators and develop businesses that have scale as well as brand recognition. We have created centers of healthcare excellence by establishing alliances with renowned international providers such as Joslin Diabetes Center and Spaulding Rehabilitation, both affiliated with Harvard Medical School, who help our portfolio companies operate at the highest international standards for medical and rehabilitation. Three of the five companies we invested in are in the field of long-term, post-acute and home care (ProVita, Cambridge Medical & Rehabilitation Center and Manzil Home Care), one is in fertility (Bourn Hall International), and one is in medical device manufacturing (Ameco Medical Industries).
What are TVM Capital Healthcare’s main areas of focus in terms of investment? Which countries do you see the greatest potential for profitable growth?
Four of the companies we invested in established their initial operations in the UAE, and are looking to expand into Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Bourn Hall International is already active in India, and Ameco is based in Egypt.
Governments across the MENA region are increasingly working hand-in-hand with companies to create an operating environment that will allow the private sector to complement the public sector. In some cases, the government is moving from owner-operator to a buyer of healthcare services from the private sector.
As a consequence, we are seeing the beginnings of what we believe will be a dramatic growth in private healthcare across the region. This process is clearly driven by lower oil price levels that are putting considerable pressure on public budgets. In the coming years, we can expect the private sector to thrive and provide the world-class service that communities across the region crave. Embedding private healthcare providers into the public health system in an optimal way, and increasing and improving collaboration at all levels will be crucial.
TVM Capital has been operating in the industry for 30 years financing over 130 companies in the healthcare and life science sector. Why do you choose to invest in the healthcare sector?
Healthcare is currently the world’s largest industry, and it is very likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Indeed, long-term trends of an aging population and an increase in people inflicted with chronic diseases are expected to drive demand for health care services in both developed and emerging economies in the coming years. Emerging markets offer even higher growth rates and business opportunities for healthcare operators and investors. We are very excited about participating in what we believe is one of the 20-year megatrends across the world and we want to grasp the opportunity to make impactful investments and to provide access to high-quality healthcare.
Mrs. Hoda, you have forged a successful investment career in the MENA region contributing to the firm’s strategy and corporate development. As an investor what are some of the major challenges you face?
One challenge is to persuade international investors to take a more nuanced view of opportunities offered in emerging markets, including the Middle East. I believe that many have certain preconceptions, and we would like them to explore in more detail the attractive opportunities in growth sectors such as healthcare when they make their investment allocations.
Another challenge stems from the fact that we are looking at companies here in the region, which are predominantly family-owned and managed. They tend to be hungry for growth capital but are either hesitant to make the adjustments necessary to institutionalize, or do not have the capacity to implement change. The key to lasting investment success – here as in every region -- is a deep knowledge of local business culture, strong business relationships, and a lot of detailed work on aligning interests, between company founders, management, and private equity investors. In the MENA region in particular, private equity firms often need to take a “roll up your sleeves” attitude, and offer practical support to their portfolio companies. For this reason we founded TVM Operations Group in Dubai, an accelerator and incubator company, that provides several services to the companies we invest in, in the areas of finance, legal, human resources, information technology, marketing, strategy and senior executive support. Not only does this team help drive operational change, it promotes complete transparency and an open exchange of views that also contribute to the value creation process. Attracting talent is also a major issue which we face and address with our partner Health Talent Consulting.
Mrs. Hoda, 90% of your portfolio companies’’ boards have one or more women. In your opinion, how would you define the importance of diversity in the portfolio and fund management, especially in emerging markets?
Private equity investors should use their role in shaping growth companies to drive greater gender diversity because it promotes a better exchange of ideas and solutions, and ultimately delivers better financial results. We should also look inward at our own human resource investments and consider the value a diverse workforce can add. We must leverage the knowledge we have from the more developed markets, and avoid the learning curve these markets have already gone through. The argument for greater diversity in leadership is being bolstered by a growing body of research suggesting that more women on the management floor and in the boardroom may equate to out performing returns. Promoting gender diversity simply makes good business sense.
How would you describe your strategy for international growth in the next 5 years?
We believe in creating sustainable value for communities through the provision of international best-practice medical care. The companies we conceptualize, develop and invest in have a significant impact on local healthcare infrastructure. They are also characterized by an innovative approach to problem solving, access to international best-practice expertise, and their patient-centric focus on delivering the highest quality of care possible.