Saudi startups trail Egyptians in VC deals despite 400% increase in Q3 funding

Saudi startups trail Egyptians in VC deals despite 400% increase in Q3 funding
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Updated 20 December 2021

Saudi startups trail Egyptians in VC deals despite 400% increase in Q3 funding

Saudi startups trail Egyptians in VC deals despite 400% increase in Q3 funding
  • Kingdom among top 3 countries in MENA region

Saudi Arabia was among the top countries in the Middle East and North Africa for new venture capital deals in the third quarter of 2021 with startups in the Kingdom raising SR769 million ($205 million) from 91 deals.

It is a 439 percent hike as compared with the figures of a year ago during which business activities were affected by the coronavirus disease pandemic, according to the KSA venture investment report from startup data platform MAGNiTT.

In the MENA region, Egypt topped the list with 96 contracts while the UAE also recorded 91 deals during the same period.

Growth

Commenting on the report, Saud Al-Sabhan, vice governor for communications at the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, Monshaat, told Arab News: “The total VC investment reached $376 million in the first three quarters of 2021, already more than double of what was reported in the entire 2020.” 

The authority was founded in 2016 to boost the contribution of small and medium enterprises to the gross domestic product to 35 percent by 2030 as against the current 20 percent. The authority established the Saudi Venture Capital Co. in 2018 to support venture capital investment by backing funds and co-investing with angel investors in high-growth startups and small firms.

FASTFACT

In the MENA region, Egypt topped the list with 96 contracts while the UAE also recorded 91 deals during the same period.

Al-Sabhan said the authority uses a wide range of funding initiatives to boost backing to small firms, which are further broken down by a company’s size and type.

Facilitator

He said Monshaat is not a lender itself but facilitates funds from the public and private sectors.

“Entrepreneurs and SMEs alike can access our core funding opportunities by visiting the authority’s website. We offer a funding platform to connect SMEs with commercial and public lenders,” the official told Arab News.

He said: “Increasing entrepreneurship is a trend we are witnessing globally, but it must be enabled at the level of government policies to ensure the protection of the Saudi economy and revenues from fluctuations that will especially affect non-oil revenues through fiscal policy decisions.

“Monshaat itself, as a government-funded entity, is dedicated to the growth and empowerment of emerging enterprises through many studied initiatives and policies that it offers.” 

The body also encourages links between universities and businesses.

Al-Sabhan said: “What links academia and entrepreneurship, in general, is that universities around the world often provide a unique and trustworthy atmosphere for entrepreneurs who are still in the early stages.

“These entrepreneurs often require continuous support and guidance, in addition to an environment where they can test their prototypes and go through a smooth phase of multiple iterations (of a project).

“Given our role of enabling entrepreneurs and SMEs around the Kingdom, we are continuously working to bridge the gap between them and universities. We currently lead several initiatives in this regard, such as our collaboration with King Abdullah University for Science and Technology.”

KAUST, a private research university based in Thuwal on the Red Sea coast, was established in 2009 to conduct “curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research to address global challenges related to food, water, energy, and the environment.”

Al-Sabhan said KAUST and Monshaat have been able to provide a different set of services, such as workshops and mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs and funders.

KAUST will also partner with the authority for the second year in a row on the 2021 Ebtakir Awards. This annual award held by Monshaat in Riyadh highlights the most innovative startups in the Kingdom. Prize money is split between three finalists — with SR150,000 going to the winner, SR100,000 for second place, and SR50,000 awarded to the third best startup of the year. 

Foreign investment

The body also has a role in attracting foreign investment to the Kingdom. 

Al-Sabhan said: “We have qualified local talent and vast opportunities for high growth and are beginning to see demand for our foreign entrepreneur licenses. Foreign-owned or registered firms are vital in diversifying and internationalizing the economy, and Monshaat can assist in registration, office spaces, and business advisory.”

“The investment climate has greatly improved in Saudi Arabia over the past several years for foreign businesses. Enhancing transparency, allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of an investment, reducing licensing process and cutting the red tape.”

In October, the Kingdom said it had licensed 44 international companies to set up regional headquarters in Riyadh, including Unilever, Baker Hughes, and Siemens.


Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities
Updated 24 sec ago

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

Saudi-Thai MoUs to boost two-way trade, investment opportunities

RIYADH: Five memorandums of understanding were signed on the sidelines of the Saudi-Thai Investment Forum in Riyadh on Monday. 

The first MoU was signed between the Saudi Federation of Chamber and the Board of Trade of Thailand to explore investment opportunities in the private sector. 

The second MoU signed between the Saudi Ministry of Investment and Gulf Energy Development Public Co. aims at evaluating and exploring investment opportunities in the field of petrochemicals industries. 

The third deal between the Diriyah Gate Development Authority and Minor Group aims to launch multiple hotels in the region. 

The fourth MoU between the Saudi Investment Ministry and Indorama Ventures is aimed at exploring petrochemical and conversion opportunities such as polymers, and fiber surfactants. 

The fifth deal was signed between the Saudi Ministry of Investment and SCG and Dusit International. This deal is aimed at increasing foreign direct investments in Saudi Arabia. 


Macro Snapshot — Ukraine war slows eurozone growth; inflation rises around the globe

Macro Snapshot — Ukraine war slows eurozone growth; inflation rises around the globe
Updated 16 May 2022

Macro Snapshot — Ukraine war slows eurozone growth; inflation rises around the globe

Macro Snapshot — Ukraine war slows eurozone growth; inflation rises around the globe

RIYADH:  The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting surge in energy and commodity prices will slash euro zone economic growth this year and next, while boosting inflation to record levels, the European Commission forecast on Monday.

The commission cut its growth forecast for the 19 countries sharing the euro to 2.7 percent this year from 4 percent predicted only in February, shortly before the war in Ukraine started. Growth will then slow to 2.3 percent next year, also below the 2.7 percent seen before.

The forecast is the first comprehensive estimate of the economic cost of the conflict in its neighbor for the euro zone and the wider 27-nation EU.

“The outlook for the EU economy before the outbreak of the war was for a prolonged and robust expansion. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has posed new challenges, just as the Union had recovered from the economic impacts of the pandemic,” the commission said in a statement.

“By exerting further upward pressures on commodity prices, causing renewed supply disruptions and increasing uncertainty, the war is exacerbating pre-existing headwinds to growth, which were previously expected to subside.”

Inflation, which the European Central Bank wants to keep at 2 percent will be 6.1 percent this year, the Commission forecast, falling to 2.7 percent — still well above the ECB’s target — next year. Before the war, the Commission expected prices to grow 3.5 percent in 2022 and 1.7 percent in 2023.

The scenario of an abrupt cut-off by Russia of gas supplies would boost inflation by an additional 3 percentage points in 2022 and an extra 1 percentage point in 2023, the Commission said.

Polish net inflation

Poland’s net Consumer Price Index excluding food and energy saw a rise by 0.8 percent in April reaching 7.7 percent year-on-year, showed a table published by the central bank on Monday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected April net inflation — excluding food and energy prices — year-on-year of 7.5 percent.

German manufacturing backlog 

German manufacturers’ order backlog is at a record high, according to a survey released on Monday, as companies struggle against supply bottlenecks in meeting high demand.

Even without a single new order, production could continue for 4.5 months, the Munich-based ifo institute said in a statement, citing the results of a survey in which around 2,000 companies took part between April 7 and 22.

In the previous survey, in January, the figure had been 4.4 months, while the long-term average for an order backlog was 2.9 months, the institute said. The data is seasonally adjusted.

“This recent increase in backlog is only slight, which indicates that the intake of new orders is gradually decreasing,” Timo Wollmershauser, head of forecasts at ifo, said, adding that German manufacturing would “really take off” if the supply-chain issues were to ease in coming months.

China's April property sales 

China’s property sales in April fell at their fastest pace in around 16 years as COVID-19 lockdowns further cooled demand despite more policy easing steps aimed at reviving a key pillar of the world’s second-largest economy.

Property sales by value in April slumped 46.6 percent from a year earlier, the biggest drop since August 2006, and sharply widening from the 26.17 percent fall in March, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Monday.

Property sales in January-April by value fell 29.5 percent year-on-year, compared with a 22.7 percent decline in the first three months.

A further cut in mortgage loan interest rates for some home buyers announced by Chinese authorities on Sunday did little to convince investors and analysts that it could revive sluggish property demand. 

Japan wholesale prices

Japan’s wholesale prices in April jumped 10 percent from the same month a year earlier, data showed on Monday, rising at a record rate as the Ukraine crisis and a weak yen pushed up the cost of energy and raw materials.

The surge in the corporate goods price index, which measures the price companies charge each other for their goods and services, marked the fastest year-on-year rise in a single month since comparable data became available in 1981.

The gain followed a revised 9.7 percent increase in March, and was higher than a median market forecast for a 9.4 percent increase.

Unlike other central banks worried about surging inflation, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) has kept its ultra-easy monetary policy in place on the view that the cost-push rise in inflation is not bringing long-term price expectations to its 2 percent target.

“Companies have been trying to absorb the rising costs by corporate efforts, but from last year onwards that has become harder for them to endure,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“They will be left no choice but to pass on those extra cost.”

Japanese firms have been slow in passing on rising cost to households as soft wage growth does little to help consumer sentiment and makes them cautious about scaring off consumers with price hikes.

The yen-based import price index jumped 44.6 percent in April from a year earlier, Monday’s data showed, a sign the yen’s recent declines are inflating the cost of imports for Japanese firms.

The BoJ last month projected core consumer inflation to hit 1.9 percent in the current fiscal year that started last month before moderating to 1.1 percent in fiscal 2023 and 2024 — a sign it sees current cost-push price rises as transitory. 

But analysts expect consumer inflation to hover around 2 percent in the coming months as the high raw material costs force more firms to hike prices, posing a risk to Japan’s fragile economic recovery.

“Everything ultimately depends on whether consumers accept price hikes,” said Minami. “While they’re likely to be okay with it to some extent, they won’t fully accept it, leading to a spending decline.”

Data on Friday is expected to show Japan’s core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes volatile fresh food costs but includes energy costs, rose 2.1 percent in April from a year earlier, slightly exceeding the BoJ’s target, a Reuters poll showed last week.

 

 


Electromin rolls out EV charging stations across Saudi Arabia

Electromin rolls out EV charging stations across Saudi Arabia
Updated 11 min 36 sec ago

Electromin rolls out EV charging stations across Saudi Arabia

Electromin rolls out EV charging stations across Saudi Arabia
  • 1.8m EVs likely to be sold in next 8 years with introduction of the service

JEDDAH: Electromin, a wholly owned e-mobility turn-key solutions provider under Petromin, has announced the rollout of electric vehicle charging points across the Kingdom.  

The network includes 100 locations across the Kingdom powered by a customer-centric mobile application, said a statement. It will enable drivers to go on long journeys with easy access to EV charging stations. 

Electromin’s charging network will offer a complete spectrum of services — from AC home/office chargers, DC fast chargers, all the way through to DC ultra-fast chargers, catering for all customer segments. 

According to the statement, the chargers installed in phase 1 will be compatible with all homologated vehicles approved by the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization using AC Type 2 connectors. The second phase will include additional AC chargers and DC chargers up to 360kW, effectively allowing users to add up to 100 kilometers in 4 minutes. 

The app will be show all charging locations within the selected Petromin Express and Petromin AutoCare outlets in early May. It will allow customers to locate the nearest public charger, plan their route, check the status of the charger to ensure it is available, and allow them to fully control the start and finish of their charging session. The app will also facilitate payments and bookings. 

Tony Mazzone, Electromin’s director of energy and EV infrastructure, said: “The rollout of EV charging points across the Kingdom is our first phase of a significant national strategy that extends to 2030 and beyond.”

HIGHLIGHTS

The chargers installed in phase 1 will be compatible with all homologated vehicles approved by the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization using AC Type 2 connectors.

The second phase will include additional AC chargers and DC chargers up to 360kW, effectively allowing users to add up to 100 kilometers in 4 minutes.

The network includes 100 locations across the Kingdom powered by a customer-centric mobile application.

The app will be show all charging locations within the selected Petromin Express and Petromin AutoCare outlets in early May.

He said Electromin’s advanced solutions will help contribute to the development of the “Saudi EV ecosystem in line with the national priorities and commitments of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 and 30 percent of vehicles in Riyadh being electric by 2030.” 

Building on our national network of charging stations will mean less pollution, more employment opportunities, and cleaner cars to deliver on the Kingdom’s clean energy investments

Tony Mazzone

“Studies show that EV sales in the Kingdom will increase with a projection of 1.3 million electric vehicles sold in the next 8 years. Building on our national network of charging stations will mean less pollution, more employment opportunities, and cleaner cars to deliver on the Kingdom’s clean energy investments.”

Graham Tunks, commercial director of Electromin added: “Electromin is the first in KSA to offer a public charging solution using SASO-regulated chargers, with full approval by municipalities, enabling drivers to make the switch to EVs knowing that there is a complete network for them to rely on.”

Electromin will be introducing added features and upgrades in their app soon to align with the future expansion of their value proposition and rollout of the network. 

Customers will need to download the app via Google Play or Apple Store, register their payment card details, and they are good to go. A dedicated call center will also guide and help EV users with charging, faults, or technical errors.

Additionally, customers can now benefit from the assistance of the Electromin Mobile EV Recovery Service. The key feature of this service is to ensure the on-road issues facing customers whose EVs have run out of battery. The recovery service will be initially limited to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.


No grain supply crisis in Saudi Arabia, SAGO deputy governor says 

No grain supply crisis in Saudi Arabia, SAGO deputy governor says 
Updated 16 May 2022

No grain supply crisis in Saudi Arabia, SAGO deputy governor says 

No grain supply crisis in Saudi Arabia, SAGO deputy governor says 

RIYADH: The deputy governor of the Saudi Grains Organization said that there is no grain supply crisis in the Kingdom amid the Russian-Ukrainian war.

This comes as a result of the organization’s strategy which depends on different sources in different countries and continents for its wheat stocks, Zaid Al-Shabanat said in his interview with Saudi TV.

He added that the organization signed a contract the previous month to secure a large amount of wheat, to be available in Saudi markets by the fourth quarter of 2022. 

SAGO is working to continuously feed its stockpile, Al-Shabanat said, adding that there is also a percentage of local wheat being grown in the Kingdom.


Egypt remittances from individuals working abroad surges 12.8% in March 

Egypt remittances from individuals working abroad surges 12.8% in March 
Updated 16 May 2022

Egypt remittances from individuals working abroad surges 12.8% in March 

Egypt remittances from individuals working abroad surges 12.8% in March 

RIYADH: Egypt remittances from individuals working abroad surged 12.8 percent year-on-year during the month of March to reach $3.3 billion, Alarabiya reported. 

That marks a 44.4 percent jump when compared to February, which saw remittances hit $2.3 billion. 

Remittances in the period extending from July 2021 up until March 2022 recorded an overall increase of 1.1 percent on an annual basis to reach an estimated $23.6 billion.

Such transactions have been forecasted to grow by 8 percent in 2022, reflecting a faster rate than 2021’s growth of 6.4 percent, according to a report issued by the World Bank.

This comes as Egypt was one of the largest destinations for remittances abroad in 2021, receiving as much as $31.5 billion in remittances.