Investing in emerging economies, especially in the conflict-ridden Middle East, often comes with a degree of risk which can be tricky to weigh up if you don’t have access to the right information. EQLIM, a new Lebanon-based data and analytics startup that’s being backed by Aramex founder and entrepreneur Fadi Ghandour, has just launched a service that provides clients with a 360-degree, near real-time information feed containing data, annotated maps, and indicators related to conflict, security, infrastructure, and investments in the MENA region.
CEO and founder Hassan Alassaad, believes there has long been a lack of geopolitical big data available in the Middle East and estimates it has a market worth of over $1 billion. “The availability of data in the Middle East is a long-standing problem due in part to government and corporate secrecy, antiquated bureaucracies, and distorted views carried by global information providers and ‘experts’,” he told Venture.
EQLIM works by using algorithms to harvest publicly available Internet data and convert it into near real-time curated information, which is then fed to subscribers through the company’s web, mobile, RSS, applications, and e-mail platforms. EQLIM’s sources include thousands of web and social media feeds in different languages from the region.
Access to EQLIM’s collated data is provided through a monthly subscription fee that offers two plan options. One plan is designed for users in think tanks, consultancies, the media, and international organizations, while the other is more suited to analysts and business executives working in oil and gas, transportation, or telecommunications. Alassaad explained the data provided by EQLIM is valuable in assisting clients from various industries to identify when and where there are conflicts, unrest, security degradation, and political uncertainty. A limited free version of the data feed is also provided by EQLIM.
While the company is in its early days, Alassaad said that things are quickly expanding. “Ultimately, our goal is to radically improve the availability, quality, and diversity of data in emerging markets around the globe,” he said. Already EQLIM has secured $425,000 in angel investment from Ghandour and other regional investors. They are now actively raising their second round of funding of $1 to $1.5 million to complete their product development and accelerate their market penetration.