MENA startups raised $646m in October

Egypt came in second with investments totaling $113 million in 18 deals, massive upturn compared to its total of $8 million raised in September. (AFP)
Egypt came in second with investments totaling $113 million in 18 deals, massive upturn compared to its total of $8 million raised in September. (AFP)
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Updated 20 November 2022

MENA startups raised $646m in October

MENA startups raised $646m in October
  • Algeria’s Yassir raises $150m in a mega funding round

CAIRO: Startups in the Middle East and North Africa region raised $646 million in funding across 69 deals witnessing a 331 percent year-on-year growth.

The region’s startup ecosystem raised a total of $3 billion this year with over 551 deals so far, according to startup news outlet Wamda.

Companies from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the top-performing last month, as all three countries

have been securing their positions on top of the list since the beginning of the year.

First on the list is the UAE which raised $460 million in 24 deals in October, a huge boost compared to the country’s $27 million raised in September.




Founded in 2020 by Faisal Al-Anazi and Essam Mohamed, Order provides software solutions for restaurants and cafes to handle daily operations. (Supplied)

The UAE saw one of the biggest investment rounds in the region thanks to clean technology startup Yellow Door Energy’s $400 million fundraising.

Egypt came in second with investments totaling $113 million in 18 deals, with the top three fundraisers

going to MaxAB’s $40 million pre-series B, MoneyFellows’ $31 million series B and Telda’s $20 million seed round.

Egypt also witnessed a massive upturn in its investments compared to a total of $8 million raised in September.

The Kingdom raised a total of $70 million across 12 deals ranking it in third place after being in first place with $114 million raised in September.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The region’s startup ecosystem raised a total of $3 billion this year with over 551 deals so far, according to startup news outlet Wamda.

• Companies from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the top performing last month, as all three countries have been securing their positions on top of the list since the beginning of the year.

The region saw a 273 percent increase in funding value compared to the month before, primarily attributed to a spike in late-stage investments, as about 84 percent of capital deployed in October was focused on series B and growth stages.

Cleantech was the most funded sector with Yellow Door Energy’s round, followed by fintech, which attracted 16 out of 69 deals to $70 million raised. Neobanks and open banking startups were the most funded segments in fintech.

In terms of investor activity, Egypt saw the most active investors participating in 18 deals, followed by the UAE with 15 and Saudi Arabia with 13.

Algeria’s Yassir secures $150m

Algeria-based super app Yassir secured $150 million in a series B funding round led by growth-stage investment firm Bond as the company plans expansion.

The super app provides users with services including ridesharing, food delivery and financial options, with operations in six countries and 45 cities since its inception in 2017.

“We look forward to expanding our presence in other geographies to become the first super app to achieve mass adoption,” said Noureddine Tayebi, Founder and CEO of Yassir.

The funding round saw participation from notable investors like DN Capital, Dorsal Capital, Quiet Capital, Stanford Alumni Ventures and Y Combinator.

Saudi’s tall order

Saudi software as a service startup Order raised $1 million in a pre-seed round led by angel investors on Nov. 13.

Founded in 2020 by Faisal Al-Anazi and Essam Mohamed, the company provides software solutions for restaurants and cafes to handle daily operations.

Currently operating in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the company aims to utilize its funding to increase its market share and product innovation.

“Investors’ belief in us is the main motive for us to have continuous development and innovation for the services we provide in the company, which will give us a competitive advantage in the market, as our solutions are comprehensive and offer financial freedom to brand owners in this sector,” Al-Anazi said in a statement.

The company also plans to create more jobs through its expansion into the MENA region by 2025. It has successfully processed over 600,000 orders through its platform.

In the blink of an eye

Egypt-based fintech Blnk announced it raised $23.7 million in equity and debt funding and $8.3 million in bond issuance on Nov. 10.

The seed funding round was co-led by UAE’s Emirates International Investment Co. and Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, while the securitized bond issuance was by the National Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire.

Founded in 2021, the company provides a digital lending platform for merchants to finance their customer purchases at the point of sale with installments ranging from six to 36 months.

“We are delighted to have the backing of a great cohort of investors early in our journey. With their support, we can drive financial inclusion in Egypt, the wider Middle East and the North Africa region,” Amr Sultan, Co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Blnk has issued over $20 million in loans to date and will utilize its funding to develop its AI-powered infrastructure further and widen its customer portfolio.

Swift as thought

UAE-based same-day delivery platform Swftbox secured $2 million in a seed round led by MENA Technology Fund on Nov 9th.

The company aims to utilize its funding to grow its customer base in the UAE and the Kingdom by supporting e-commerce platforms with enhanced delivery experiences.

It plans to utilize its funds to grow its customer base in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“We will use the new capital to accelerate tech development to enhance user experience further and automation, boost margins and grow our customer base in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Mohammad Absi-Halabi, co-founder and CEO of Swftbox, added.

The funding round saw participation from venture capitals like Polymath Ventures, AirAngels, Ithraa Investment Co. and investors from the US, Europe, the UAE and the Kingdom.

The real deal

Dubai-based real estate platform Silkhaus raised $7.8 million in a seed round to digitize short-term rentals.

Established in 2017 by Aahan Bhojani and Ashmin Varma, the company is building an operating system to revolutionize the rental industry.

Bhojani explained that the market is currently underserved and is witnessing huge growth in demand, with an estimated value of $13 billion.

Growing over 10 times in the past year, Silkhaus plans to invest in its expansion plans into MENA and Southeast Asia.

The funding round included investments from Nuwa Capital, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures, Whiteboard Capital and Venture Souq.

 

 


Nuclear energy offers ‘a golden opportunity’ to build a clean world

Nuclear energy offers ‘a golden opportunity’ to build a clean world
Updated 07 February 2023

Nuclear energy offers ‘a golden opportunity’ to build a clean world

Nuclear energy offers ‘a golden opportunity’ to build a clean world

RIYADH: Being a cost-effective and low-carbon solution, nuclear energy “offers a golden opportunity” to help build a clean world, according to the director general of the World Nuclear Association.

Sama Bilbao y Leon was speaking as a keynote speaker at the 44th IAEE International Conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. The top official said nuclear energy offers an opportunity to build a cleaner and more equitable world in which everyone has access to “clean, abundant and affordable round-the-clock energy and high quality of life.”

“As a low-carbon energy source, nuclear power can play a very important role, decarbonizing other difficult-to-able sectors,” she said.

The official said nuclear energy is certainly a cost-effective, low-carbon solution and a catalyst for economic development. It is more efficient than other sources when we think of energy transition, she added.

She, however, cautioned saying that much work is needed to deploy nuclear power with determination and speed.

Leon also pointed out that the current energy market is unstable, and there is a need to take a step back and adopt scientific approaches to make the sustainable energy transition a success.

Yousef Al-Ghamdi, executive director of strategic planning at the Saudi Electricity Co. noted that renewable energy will play an important role in energy transition, especially hydrogen energy.

Shihab Elborai, a partner at Strategy& Middle East, underscored the importance of technological advances to meet the challenges of climate change. He said recycling can help mitigate the climate effect and reduce carbon in the environment, therefore countries should invest in efficient technologies to improve the energy sector.

Peter Hartley, the George A. Peterkin Professor of Economics at Rice University, said natural gas is cheaper and a better option and as an energy source is going to stay. He added that nuclear energy is a costly affair.

Ayad Alamri, executive director for business development, at ACWA Power, said that PVC has a key role in clean energy management and distribution as we are aiming at a net-zero future.


Saudi, Hong Kong bourses sign MoU to explore listing opportunities

Saudi, Hong Kong bourses sign MoU to explore listing opportunities
Updated 07 February 2023

Saudi, Hong Kong bourses sign MoU to explore listing opportunities

Saudi, Hong Kong bourses sign MoU to explore listing opportunities

RIYADH: Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing to work together to explore listing opportunities and collaborate in sectors such as fintech and environmental, social and governance, according to a tweet by the parent company of the Saudi Exchange.

The MoU reflected the HKEX’s “ongoing commitment to driving global connectivity and shaping a successful shared sustainable future,” said Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of the Hong Kong bourse operator.

“This MoU brings us one step closer toward enabling cross listings and other areas of collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong,” Tadawul CEO Khalid Al-Hussan was quoted as saying by the Chinese media.

“As we seek to position the Saudi capital market as an investment hub between East and West, we are seeing increased interest from issuers and investors in Asia.”

 

 


Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneur Association launched at LEAP

Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneur Association launched at LEAP
Updated 07 February 2023

Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneur Association launched at LEAP

Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneur Association launched at LEAP

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneur Association was launched at the LEAP 2023 conference in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The association — comprising over 100 Saudi and Chinese businesses, government entities, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions — seeks to boost cooperation between the private sectors on both sides along with bilateral ties at the government level. 

The nonprofit organization is supported by the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones. It will be operated by eWTP Arabia Capital.

“In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, SCEA will enable cross-border investments and valuable collaborations,” said Jerry Li, founder and managing partner of eWTPA. 

The organization also plans to promote investment, encourage innovation, and develop social responsibility and public welfare.  

“China is a strategic partner for Saudi Arabia in terms of technology and innovation. Having worked closely with Alibaba and eWTPA for the last three years, I highly appreciate their efforts in contributing to the development of our local digital ecosystem,” said Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones. 

Al-Khamisi added: “This association will take our collaboration to the next level and provide the broader Saudi-China business community with a forum to share valuable experiences.”   


Jordanian-Iraqi business forum to start Wednesday in Baghdad

Jordanian-Iraqi business forum to start Wednesday in Baghdad
Updated 07 February 2023

Jordanian-Iraqi business forum to start Wednesday in Baghdad

Jordanian-Iraqi business forum to start Wednesday in Baghdad
  • 3-day conference being held under title ‘Partnership for the Future’
  • Jordanian delegation to include company representatives from range of sectors

AMMAN: A Jordanian-Iraqi business forum will on Wednesday get underway in Baghdad with company representatives and investors from both countries taking part.
The Jordan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Jordanian Businessmen Association are co-organizing the three-day event, which is being held under the title “Partnership for the Future,” the Jordan News Agency reported on Tuesday.
The participating Jordanian delegation will include representatives of firms operating in various economic sectors including foodstuffs, communications, information technology, medicines, clothing, financial and banking services, insurance, construction, contracting, real estate development, tourism, agriculture, mining, and plastics industries.
In regard to the current global economic situation, the forum will provide a chance for the private sectors of Jordan and Iraq to work together and make the most of the opportunities available, advancing the strategic goals and common interests of the two countries.
The forum will be held concurrently with the joint Jordanian-Iraqi committee meetings and will feature bilateral talks between Jordanian and Iraqi business leaders as well as an overview of investment opportunities in Jordan.
The Jordanian party will be one of the biggest economic delegations to visit Baghdad, reflecting Amman’s desire to forge close economic ties with Iraq and support initiatives launched by King Abdullah II and the Iraqi leadership.


Tonomus teams with Oracle, Nvidia to boost AI capabilities across NEOM, Saudi Arabia

Tonomus teams with Oracle, Nvidia to boost AI capabilities across NEOM, Saudi Arabia
Updated 07 February 2023

Tonomus teams with Oracle, Nvidia to boost AI capabilities across NEOM, Saudi Arabia

Tonomus teams with Oracle, Nvidia to boost AI capabilities across NEOM, Saudi Arabia

 

RIYADH: With the aim of boosting artificial intelligence capabilities across NEOM and Saudi Arabia, Tonomus announced it had teamed up with Oracle and Nvidia at LEAP 23 on Tuesday.
The collaboration by Tonomus, a cognitive multinational conglomerate and the first company to be established as a full-fledged subsidiary of NEOM, is designed to accelerate AI-powered innovation for a broad range of use by enterprises and government organizations.
Tonomus will provide customers with direct access to Nvidia’s advanced AI, digital twin solutions that take advantage of the planned Oracle cloud region to be located at NEOM.
“The longstanding alliance between Oracle and Nvidia complements Tonomus’ ongoing mission to build the infrastructure and ubiquitous connectivity required to enable the world’s first ecosystem of cognitive technologies,” Joseph Bradley, CEO of Tonomus, said.
“This monumental collaboration will empower NEOM with geographical advantage and place Saudi Arabia firmly on the map as a regional hub for the provision of AI capabilities.”
“Tonomus will benefit from Oracle cloud infrastructure’s unmatched capability of supporting modern cloud native applications in a secure environment. This, coupled with our existing partnership with Nvidia, will speed AI adoption for enterprises,” added Richard Smith, executive vice president, cloud and technology, Europe, Middle East, and Africa of Oracle.
“Nvidia software and systems on OCI provide an ideal platform for developers like Tonomus to build AI-forward, modern cities,” Jaap Zuiderveld, vice president of EMEA at Nvidia, commented.