“Private equity bridges finance and human relationships. If you want to succeed, you have to be good at due diligence and investments but you also have to understand people,” said Rajaa Mekouar, a seasoned PE investor, founder of family office advisory Calista Direct Investors and one of the Moonfare’s early backers. Last week, Mekouar participated in a fireside chat with our Investment Director Sweta Chattopadhyay. The chat served as an inaugural event of Moonfare’s newly-launched “Women in PE” series.
Connecting investors and SMEs
Mekouar explained that she looks at private equity through the lens of entrepreneurship and family-owned businesses. “Measured in volume, almost 80 percent of companies backed by private equity are startups and small and medium sized companies - a lot of them family-owned. “They think long-term, they build businesses themselves and are in the best position to invest,” she explained.
Mekouar has over 20 years of experience in private equity investing. She worked on all sides of the conversation - as a General Partner, Limited Partner and Co-investor in Europe, Asia and the US. She has also been awarded with an “Inspirational Woman in Finance Award 2020” and named one of the Top 100 Executive Women in Luxembourg where Calista Direct Investors is based.
Investing in private equity: get informed and take your time
In her view, private equity is not suited just for anybody since the asset class is characterized by illiquidity and long holding periods. “The long term nature means that if you have a trading “in-and-out” mentality, private equity will probably not make you comfortable,” she warned but also continued to say that, on the flip side, private equity doesn’t have the volatility of the public markets.
Mekouar is a staunch supporter of efforts to demystify private equity. She especially highlighted the importance of education. “Private equity is the least financial of asset classes since it’s about real people and real businesses. Reading about it, getting informed, attending relevant conferences, and in our case being accompanied by professionals, is the key.”
She also advises (potential) investors to take their time before investing. In her view, private equity is a long term game and investors should only go in if they feel comfortable and fully understand what they’re investing in. “The beauty of private equity is about patience,” she added.
The seasoned investor is also a Moonfare shareholder and an early backer of the firm. She said that she was happy to see an emergence of a provider “with true access to the best quality opportunity, while being scalable”. She believes that Moonfare’s “secret” is in leveraging technology and making experience digital and seamless.
“A woman with a good sense of herself and people, will excel in private equity”
Moonfare’s Sweta Chattopadhyay and Mekouar also discussed the participation of women in the industry. “If a woman feels that she should diversify assets with private equity, there’s no reason why she shouldn’t,” Mekouar pointed out. In her view, it helps to further the cause if there are more female role models and female-backed companies.
“A woman with a good sense of herself and people, will excel in private equity. It’s a lot about relationships,” she added. She recommended that women do their due diligence and research the people behind investment opportunities. “Don’t be put off that it's male-dominated world. There are many women-dominated industries, such as luxury, but men invest in there too,” she emphasized in the conversation with Moonfare.
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