Saudi Venture Capital invests $7.5m to back SMEs, startups

 The investment is part of SVC’s drive to inject $1.6 billion into startups and small and medium enterprises. File
The investment is part of SVC’s drive to inject $1.6 billion into startups and small and medium enterprises. File
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Updated 25 May 2023

Saudi Venture Capital invests $7.5m to back SMEs, startups

Saudi Venture Capital invests $7.5m to back SMEs, startups

RIYADH: Entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia are set to benefit from an investment of $7.5 million by Saudi Venture Capital into a fund aimed at helping early and late-stage startups. 
The fund is managed by Endeavor Catalyst, the investment arm of Endeavor Global. The investment is part of SVC’s drive to inject $1.6 billion into startups and small and medium enterprises.
SVC is a subsidiary of SME Bank, one of the development banks affiliated with the National Development Fund.
The subscription agreement was signed by SVC CEO Nabeel Koshak and Allen Taylor, managing partner at Endeavor Catalyst. 
Abdulrahman Mansour, the acting CEO of the bank, also attended the ceremony.
Koshak said: “The investment in Endeavor Catalyst IV Fund is a result of the recent support from SME Bank to increase the investment capital of SVC, leading to a total investment capital of $1.6 billion. The investment is also part of SVC’s Investment in Funds Program.”
Commenting on the deal, Taylor said: “We are delighted to extend our collaboration with SVC, building upon the accomplishments achieved through Endeavor Catalyst III.” 


First batch of graduates pass out from KAPSARC Academy

First batch of graduates pass out from KAPSARC Academy
Updated 31 May 2023

First batch of graduates pass out from KAPSARC Academy

First batch of graduates pass out from KAPSARC Academy

RIYADH: The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center organized a ceremony to mark the passing out of the first batch of its Public Leadership Executive Program last week.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who is also the center's board chairman, attended the ceremony.

According to a statement, the first-of-its-kind program in the Kingdom is offered by KAPSARC Academy in collaboration with the International Institute for Management Development, said a statement.

It seeks to prepare distinguished young Saudis to play their roles in achieving the goals of Vision 2030. It is considered a unique training program designed to support the national cadres in the Saudi energy sector.

KAPSARC President Fahd Alajlan said the academy was inspired by the passion of Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman to stimulate innovation, promote education and develop the Kingdom’s human capital.

He said the academy aims to raise the level of competencies of the local workforce and equip leaders and professionals with the skills required for future public policymaking roles.

Dr. Ghada Al-Arifi, director of the academy, said the institution focuses on boosting leadership skills. The eight-month program includes lectures, workshops, and interactive sessions, she added.

Al-Arifi said it helps trainees to become familiar with certain aspects of management and public policy.

According to the statement, the first batch of the academy consisted of 36 graduates.


UAE’s Mirfa 2 RO plant achieves financial closure, raises $620m  

UAE’s Mirfa 2 RO plant achieves financial closure, raises $620m  
Updated 31 May 2023

UAE’s Mirfa 2 RO plant achieves financial closure, raises $620m  

UAE’s Mirfa 2 RO plant achieves financial closure, raises $620m  

RIYADH: Abu-Dhabi-based Mirfa 2 water desalination project has secured funding of 2.3 billion dirhams ($620 million), achieving financial closure of what will become the UAE’s third-largest reverse osmosis plant. 

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., or TAQA, announced the financial closure alongside French low-carbon services company ENGIE and Emirates Water and Electricity Co. in a bourse filing. 

According to the filing, 78 percent of the project is primarily funded through debt financing from local and international banks, including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., The Norinchukin Bank, BNP Paribas and KfW IPEX-Bank. 

The Mirfa 2 RO plant will produce roughly 550,000 cubic meters of potable water daily and will be operational by the fourth quarter of 2025. 

While TAQA would own 60 percent of the project and ENGIE the rest, both companies will take on the operations and maintenance of the plant. 

The release further stated that EWEC would procure the water supplied from the plant for 30 years.  

“TAQA is proud to invest in the development, ownership, and operation of this critical water project in Abu Dhabi, which will contribute to the UAE’s decarbonization efforts as well as TAQA’s emissions reduction targets,” said Farid Al-Awlaqi, executive director of generation, TAQA in the statement.  

He added: “Mirfa 2 RO also enables us to accelerate how we decouple power and water operations across our assets to further reduce our carbon impact.” 

The Mirfa 2 RO plant is EWEC’s fifth low-carbon intensive RO desalination project in a pipeline of initiatives to decouple water and power generation toward realizing the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Strategic Targets 2035 to reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent. 

“Through our initiatives, we forecast that over 90 percent of our water production will be from RO technology by 2030, resulting in an 88 percent reduction in carbon emissions associated with water production,” said Othman Al-Ali, CEO of EWEC.  

The plant will leverage efficient RO desalination, up to six times more efficient than traditional thermal desalination. The technology would also enable plant operators to reduce carbon emissions by decoupling water and power generation processes, thus supporting the broader efforts of the energy sector to cut costs and achieve sustainability targets.  

“We are delighted to have achieved financial close and look forward to commencing build and ultimately operations,” said Frederic Claux, managing director of the flexible generation and retail division of ENGIE in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 


Closing bell: Oil prices weigh down Saudi stocks

Closing bell: Oil prices weigh down Saudi stocks
Updated 31 May 2023

Closing bell: Oil prices weigh down Saudi stocks

Closing bell: Oil prices weigh down Saudi stocks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dropped by 125.85 points or 1.13 percent to close at 11,014.13, driven by a fall in oil prices that affected investors’ morale. 

While parallel market Nomu lost 335.24 points to 21,278.26, the MSCI Tadawul Index fell 1.31 percent to 1,464.41. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR11.79 billion ($3.14 billion) as 58 stocks advanced, while 155 retreated. 

Brent crude futures for August delivery were down $1.69, or 2.30 percent, to $71.85 a barrel at 3:15 p.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.99, or 2.87 percent, to $67.47. 

The top stock of the day was Jarir Marketing Co., as its share price advanced 6.02 percent to SR17.60. 

Jarir Marketing Co., on Wednesday, said that its shareholders had approved the board’s proposal for reducing the stock’s par value from SR10 to SR1 during the extraordinary general meeting conducted on May 30. 

Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund and Saudi Fisheries Co. were other top gainers of the day, whose share prices rose by 3.76 percent and 3.06 percent, respectively. 

Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp. was the worst performer as its share price dropped 4.76 percent to close at SR38.05. 

Meanwhile, the board of directors of Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. recommended splitting the stocks par value from SR10 to SR0.1 while keeping the company’s capital intact. 

In a bourse filing, the company said that the number of its shares following the split would be 2.97 billion. 

On Wednesday, Filing and Packing Materials Manufacturing Co. announced that its board of directors approved to transform the legal entity of its subsidiary FPC Industrial Co. from a limited liability company to a joint stock company. 

“This transformation will support FPC’s objectives aiming for future expansions. Also, it will maintain its stability and sustainability and will support the company’s financial position, which supports increasing export sales and improves the credit relationship with some large foreign clients to increase the company’s export share and in line with the needs of global markets,” said FIPCO in a statement to Tadawul. 

The statement added that FIPCO’s board of directors also decided to set an authorized capital of SR100 million and raise the paid-up capital from SR18 million to SR70 million. 

According to the statement, the capital hike will be financed using some current account balances between partners. The company’s share price dropped by 1.57 percent to SR43.90. 


Number of SMEs in Saudi Arabia rises 4.8% in Q1, exceeds 1.2m

Number of SMEs in Saudi Arabia rises 4.8% in Q1, exceeds 1.2m
Updated 31 May 2023

Number of SMEs in Saudi Arabia rises 4.8% in Q1, exceeds 1.2m

Number of SMEs in Saudi Arabia rises 4.8% in Q1, exceeds 1.2m

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is witnessing increased entrepreneurial activity as the total number of small and medium enterprises exceeded 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2023.

According to a report released by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at, this figure reflects a 4.8 percent surge compared to the final quarter of 2022.

The report further revealed that 88,858 new businesses were launched across the Kingdom in the first quarter of 2023.

“Saudi Arabia’s robust SME ecosystem passes new milestones every quarter,” Mohammed Al-Belwe, Monsha’at vice governor for communications, told Arab News.

“More than 88,000 new SMEs were launched in Q1 alone, bringing consumers a new array of goods and services and spurring growth across key sectors such as tourism, e-commerce, retail, food and beverage, and fintech,” Al-Belwe said.

“Behind these numbers is an exciting new generation of entrepreneurs who are striking out on their own, and as the Kingdom’s non-oil economy surges, the growth of SMEs will continue to kindle unprecedented private sector growth,” he added.

Riyadh was home to 41.4 percent, followed by Makkah at 18.1 percent, the Eastern Province at 11.1 percent and the other cities accounted for 28.6 percent of the total SMEs in the Kingdom.

SME financing reached its highest level in the first quarter of 2023, touching SR1.35 billion ($359 million).

The e-commerce and retail sectors emerged as the most active sectors in terms of financing during the first quarter of 2023, the report revealed.

It also highlighted the initiatives of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, which provided six financing products, including credit cards for enterprises and e-commerce financing.

The products also include financing working capital, microfinance, financing with a revolving credit line, and term financing.

Also noteworthy were the achievements of the Biban 2023 Forum, an event held in Riyadh in March and attended by an estimated 145,000 visitors from all over the world.

The event generated over $13.8 billion in agreements and announcements for SMEs in the Kingdom.

Under the Vision 2030 goals, the SME sector aims to contribute 35 percent of the gross domestic product by 2030.

Moreover, SMEs are set to play a significant role in achieving the Kingdom’s objectives of lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.


Amazon doubles storage capacity in Saudi Arabia with new facility in Riyadh

Amazon doubles storage capacity in Saudi Arabia with new facility in Riyadh
Updated 31 May 2023

Amazon doubles storage capacity in Saudi Arabia with new facility in Riyadh

Amazon doubles storage capacity in Saudi Arabia with new facility in Riyadh
  • E-commerce giant eyes 40,000 online sellers in Saudi Arabia by 2025

RIYADH: Amazon has launched a new fulfillment center in Riyadh doubling its total storage capacity in Saudi Arabia and increasing selling opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.

The facility, which spans 390,000 sq. feet across five floors, with 2.7 million cubic feet capacity can store more than 9 million products, according to a statement .

The opening of the fulfillment center in the Saudi capital will provide SMBs a platform to showcase their products and expand their reach, a top official of the e-commerce giant said.

In an interview with Arab News, Prashant Saran, director of operations for Amazon in the Middle East and North Africa region, said that the new facility will provide sellers with more storage options and help them expand their online businesses to new markets.

“Whenever a new fulfillment center opens, it has a transformative impact on the economy of the host city by contributing to expanding product selection and availability, growth of e-commerce sales, talent development, and the acceleration of entrepreneurship,” said Saran.

He added: “The majority of products sold on Amazon.sa come from small and medium-sized businesses. In fact, many SMBs venture into e-commerce for the first time using our simple and convenient services.”

Saran noted that Amazon has been working closely with Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, also known as Monsha’at, to host 40,000 sellers on Amazon.sa by 2025.

Amazon’s fulfillment centers are hubs that enable the e-commerce firm to store millions of units of inventory, and serve as distribution centers where associates store, pick, pack, and ship orders.

The new center was opened in Riyadh on Tuesday in the presence of Suliman Al-Mazroua, CEO of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, and officials of the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services, the Transport General Authority; and Monsha’at.

“Amazon’s expansion supports Saudi Arabia’s logistics sector — one of NIDLP’s four key sectors — bringing the latest innovations and technologies in e-commerce operations to the country. The new fulfillment center in Riyadh will further unlock the value of the Kingdom’s resources by empowering local startups and entrepreneurs with improved global connectivity and access to new markets,” said Al-Mazroua, according to the statement.

“Led by a diverse cohort of talented Saudi nationals in managerial positions, we expect this fulfillment center to support the Kingdom’s digital economy goals,” said Abdo Chlala, country manager of Amazon in Saudi Arabia.

According to the press release, the facility is powered 100 percent by electricity, including its heating and hot water systems, avoiding the use of fossil fuel combustibles and with energy efficiency as a top priority, in line with the company’s goal to turn net-zero by 2040.

Saran added that Amazon has been always cooperating with the Kingdom to support its localization efforts, and with Amazon Academy announced earlier this year, the e-commerce giant is providing training to 30,000 Saudi citizens in cloud technology, retail, and logistics.

“We have been making steady progress and today, Saudi women at the new fulfillment center occupy a variety of leadership positions within operations, human resources, learning and development, IT, among other departments,” he said.