CAIRO: The Middle East and North Africa region has emerged as a hub for entrepreneurial activity, with a thriving startup ecosystem fueling innovation and economic growth.
From Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Egypt and Tunisia, a surge in startup activity is transforming the business landscape, attracting investment and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.
UAE-based construction technology startup Tenderd raised an undisclosed funding round from Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s $500 million venture capital arm.
Founded in 2018 by Arjun Mohan, Tenderd provides customers with artificial intelligence-generated insights to increase asset utilization and reduce emissions.
“Our investment in Tenderd reflects our commitment to addressing sustainability challenges facing the industrial sector and providing solutions to decarbonize their operations,” said Fahad Alidi, managing director at Wa’ed Ventures.
Tenderd plans to utilize its funding to broaden its footprint and expand its sustainable solutions for manufacturers.
YallaHub is on an expansion drive
UAE’s marketplace aggregator and quick commerce startup YallaHub raised $6 million in a pre-series A funding round. Founded at the end of 2022 by Leo Dovbenko and Stas Seleznev, YallaHub is a marketplace aggregator and digital distributor that enables brands to scale their e-commerce businesses on a regional and global level.
“Initially focused on our B2C business, YallaMarket, we received requests from 500 companies to help them enter the Gulf Cooperation Council region. Recognizing the untapped potential, we created the B2B2C e-commerce single-window solution, YallaHub,” Dovbenko said in a statement.
The company is executing its expansion plans to enter the Saudi and Qatari market while hiring an on-ground team in Riyadh.
“Saudi Arabia’s expansion presents a significant growth opportunity for YallaHub. By entering the Kingdom, YallaHub will tap into its large consumer base, leverage the country’s favorable economic conditions, utilize well-developed infrastructure, and establish strategic partnerships,” Dovbenko told Arab News in June.
By the end of 2023, the startup aims to attract over 100 brands from all markets and reach $10 million in annual recurring revenue.
Dovbenko also revealed that YallaHub’s grand plan includes expanding across the GCC region by 2025. The expansion for this year encompasses the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain are on the company’s radar for 2025.
Dovbenko, a seasoned entrepreneur, had co-launched YallaMarket, an online grocery marketplace, before YallaHub. His earlier venture attracted $12 million in funding from regional investors.
UAE’s Get Outfit to get bigger
Another UAE startup, Get Outfit, secured an undisclosed amount from Forward Angel.
Established in 2022 by Kim Sanzhiev, Get Outfit is a personalized fashion application with an AI-powered stylist.
“We just launched our first release on the App Store one month ago and have already reached 6,000 users. In the past two weeks alone, our user base and revenue have doubled,” Sanzhiev said.
The company aims to accelerate the soft launch of its mobile app in the UAE with plans to expand to Saudi Arabia in the future.
Egypt’s fintech Flash forward
Egypt-based fintech Flash raised $6 million in a seed funding round led by Addition with participation from Flourish Ventures.
Founded in 2021 by Erik Gordon and Sherine Kabesh, Flash offers a payment application with cashless solutions targeting consumers and businesses through a scan-and-pay service.
“Our goal is to make payments easier, safer and faster for everyone. We are also excited to be releasing new features to help consumers make better spending decisions,” Gordon said.
“We are humbled by this seed investment, which will enable us to invest in our product and business and customer acquisition and utilize the valuable insights of our experienced investment partners to advance the economy of Egypt,” he added.
Flash has also obtained approval from the Central Bank of Egypt in partnership with Banque Misr to operate as a technical payment aggregator.
Mobility startup Kaco goes the distance
Tunisia’s mobility startup Kaco raised an undisclosed funding round from UGFS North Africa.
Founded in 2018 by Salmi Med Ali, Kaco is a local manufacturer of electric scooters called Orca.
This scooter has an integration rate surpassing 80 percent and a range of 100 km.
The integration rate refers to the proportion of electric scooters that are seamlessly integrated into existing transportation systems.
Furthermore, Kaco plans to manufacture the lithium batteries required for the scooters on-site, further enhancing its commitment to local production.
The new round will allow Kaco to finalize the construction of a production facility that can manufacture a thousand scooters per year.
Food tech firm Growdash hits the spot
UAE-based food tech company Growdash secured $750,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by Flat6Labs with participation from Plus Venture Capital.
Established in 2022 by Enver Sorkun and Sean Trevaskis, Growdash enables restaurants to manage marketing spend, create data-driven online campaigns and maintain customer engagement.
“We are excited to partner with Flat6Labs and Plus Venture Capital alongside a super group of F&B industry-focused investors that continue to support and encourage our ambitious plans on a daily basis,” said Trevaskis.
“We’re proud to have grown by over 500 percent this year, so far, which truly validates the problem we are solving for restaurants,” he added.
Operating in the UAE and Kuwait, Growdash plans to utilize its funding to grow its team and launch its offering in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Jordan’s startup fund embarks on a mission
Jordan’s Innovative Startups and SMEs Fund has invested $2 million in Hambro Perks’ Oryx Fund to empower the country’s venture ecosystem.
A partnership between the Central Bank of Jordan and the World Bank, ISSF aims to accelerate the funding landscape in the country’s early-stage startups.
Hambro Perks is a MENA-focused venture capital fund that backs technology companies in pre-seed, seed, and series A stages.
The collaboration aims to unlock opportunities for local entrepreneurs and support startups in fintech, health tech, ed tech, and logistics sectors.