Startup Wrap – Regional collaboration flourishes in effort to boost digital transformation 

Startup Wrap – Regional collaboration flourishes in effort to boost digital transformation 
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Updated 12 May 2024
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Startup Wrap – Regional collaboration flourishes in effort to boost digital transformation 

Startup Wrap – Regional collaboration flourishes in effort to boost digital transformation 

CAIRO: Digital transformation is on the cusp as regional companies join hands to further boost this technological development across the Middle East and North Africa.

On top of this week’s partnerships, Saudi Arabia’s Alraedah Digital Solutions, the innovation arm of Alraedah Digital Group, inked a deal with regional fintech ABHI to boost financial inclusion in the Kingdom.   

Under the terms of the agreement, Alraedah Digital Solutions will harness ABHI’s advanced technological capabilities to introduce a range of innovative financial services tailored to the Saudi market.  

The collaboration will focus on leveraging Alraedah’s deep knowledge of local market dynamics to launch new financing products collaboratively.  

Additionally, Alraedah has committed to a substantial financial investment, pledging access to $200 million over three years to support the development and localization of ABHI’s products for the Kingdom.   

“We are excited to join forces with ABHI to revolutionize the financial landscape in Saudi Arabia. This partnership underscores our commitment to fostering innovation and driving economic empowerment through strategic collaborations. Together, we aim to redefine access to financial services and empower individuals and businesses across the region,” Paul Melotto, CEO at Alraedah Digital Solutions, said. 




Paul Melotto, CEO at Alraedah Digital Solutions and Omair Ansari, CEO and co-founder of ABH. Supplied

Founded in 2021, ABHI specializes in earned wage access, invoice factoring, small and medium sized enterprise working capital, revenue-based financing, and payroll solutions.  

To date, ABHI claims to have supported over 1,000 companies, enhancing financial stability for approximately 750,000 employees and processing over $300 million in loans across different regions.  

The company is backed by notable investors including Y Combinator, VEF, SpeedInvest, Venture Souq, Global Ventures, and Zayn Capital. 

Abu Dhabi’s Comera Financial Holding joins hand with Egypt’s Beltone Holding 

Comera Financial Holding, an Abu Dhabi-based group with interests in technology and fintech, has joined forces with Beltone Holding, a prominent financial services provider in Egypt, to enhance digital transformation and customer experience in the North African country. 

The strategic partnership focuses on knowledge transfer and the introduction of new digital solutions across the region. 

Together, Comera and Beltone aim to develop and deploy advanced products that will elevate customer experiences in various financial sectors, including payments, consumer finance, SME finance, and supply chain financing.  

“This collaboration represents a pivotal step forward in our commitment to enhancing digital access and improving financial services for our customers,” Dalia Khorshid, Group CEO of Beltone Holding, said.  

The collaboration will leverage both companies’ expertise to introduce cutting-edge technological solutions not only in Egypt but also in other Middle East and North Africa countries. 

MoneyHash partners with Visa 

US-based, MENA-focused fintech MoneyHash has announced a new collaboration with digital payments firm Visa.

This partnership aims to deliver secure and enhanced digital payments experiences across the region. 

By collaborating with Visa, MoneyHash will gain access to an extensive array of Visa’s digital payment solutions, enhancing its service offerings with advanced technologies like network tokenization.  

Additionally, this partnership allows MoneyHash to tap into Visa’s vast global reach, capabilities, and renowned security infrastructure.  

These elements are crucial to Visa’s mission of connecting the world through an innovative, reliable, and secure payment network, now extending further across the MENA region.  

This strategic alliance is set to significantly boost MoneyHash’s capacity to serve its customers with payment solutions. 

Dubizzle acquires Drive Arabia 

Dubizzle Group, a leading online classifieds platform in the Middle East, has further cemented its position in the automotive sector across the MENA region with the acquisition of Drive Arabia.   

Known for its strong brand presence over the past two decades, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Drive Arabia brings valuable expertise and a loyal customer base to Dubizzle Group. 

This acquisition enables Dubizzle Group to enhance its automotive advertising services, introduce innovative new products, and expand its market reach.  

The integration of Drive Arabia is expected to significantly bolster Dubizzle Group’s capabilities in meeting the evolving needs of automotive customers across the region. 

Egypt’s Swypex secures $4m in seed round 




Supplied.

Swypex has announced its emergence onto the financial technology scene with a $4 million seed investment round led by US venture capital fund, Accel.  

This investment marks Accel’s first foray into the fintech sector in the region and includes contributions from Foundation Ventures, the Raba Partnership, and several leading industry angel investors.  

Licensed by the Central Bank of Egypt, Swypex aims to become the first comprehensive platform aimed at eliminating financial inefficiencies and maximizing business potential in the country.

The platform integrates payments, invoice management, and smart corporate cards into a single system designed to streamline financial operations.  

Swypex’s products are tailored to simplify financial management for businesses, allowing them to automate workflows and facilitate easy payments.  

The corporate cards offered by Swypex are specifically designed for Egyptian businesses to help reduce costs, enhance operational efficiency, and support scalable growth. 

Monsha’at graduates 25 startups from Qassim University 

Saudi Arabia’s Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at, has announced the successful graduation of 25 startups from Qassim University’s business incubator, as part of the University Startups Initiative Program.  

The business incubator is designed to facilitate the transition of creative ideas and university graduation projects into market-ready startups capable of securing investments.  

During their time in the incubator, the startups managed to increase their client base by 35 percent and successfully secured two investment rounds totaling around SR500,000 ($133,317). 

Since its inception in 2023, the University Startups Initiative Program has graduated 75 startups in collaboration with three government universities located in Riyadh, Al-Ahsa, and Qassim.

April startup funding sees sharp decline 

Startup funding in the MENA region experienced a sharp decline in April, with only 19 startups raising $55 million.  

This represents a 78 percent drop month-on-month from $254 million raised in March, although it marks an 87 percent increase year-on-year, according to Wamda’s Monthly report.   

The largest funding amount in April was awarded to Fortis, a UAE-based fintech startup, which secured $20 million in a series A round.  

This was followed by WEE, which raised $10 million in a pre-series A round, and Tunisia’s Qodek, which garnered $8 million in its series B round. 

Geographically, UAE-based startups led the funding charts with $32 million distributed across six deals, while Egyptian startups received $8.7 million over five deals.  

In contrast, Saudi startups saw a noticeable decrease in investment, attracting only $4.8 million across three deals. 

Sector-wise, fintech remained the most funded, with four companies raising $25.7 million, $20 million of which was allocated to Fortis alone.  

E-commerce startups received $10.5 million across two funding rounds, and an AI firm, Qodek, raised $8 million. Additionally, three Software-as-a-Service providers collectively raised $3.5 million.  

In terms of gender representation in funding, disparities remain significant. 

Only one female-founded firm managed to secure $100,000, in stark contrast to the $43 million received by male-founded companies, highlighting ongoing challenges in achieving gender parity in the startup ecosystem. 


Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s flynas has been named the Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for the seventh time in a row by a leading industry body.

The carrier was also ranked in the top three low-cost airlines in the world by the International Skytrax Organization, the global authority for assessing airline performance. 

Bander Al-Mohanna, CEO of flynas, received the gong for the firm’s Middle East ranking during the annual Skytrax Awards ceremony held in London. 

“Consolidating our position among the top four in the low-cost aviation sector worldwide and being named the Best LCC in the Middle East for the seventh time in a row, according to Skytrax awards, is a success in the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Mohanna said 

“The Kingdom is at the forefront of the world's countries in various fields, especially in the travel, tourism, and aviation sectors, which have received significant attention and goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” he added. 

Al-Mohanna attributed the achievement to the enduring loyalty of their guests, the dedication of their team, and the tremendous support that all Saudi companies enjoy from the government.

“Scooping the award for the seventh time in a row reflects flynas’ persistent commitment to excellence in products and services within the expansion and growth plan we launched under the slogan ‘We Connect the World to the Kingdom,’” he added. 

Al-Mohanna explained that this aligns with the objectives of the National Civil Aviation Strategy, which aims to enable national air carriers to connect the Kingdom with 250 international destinations, accommodate 330 million passengers, and host 100 million tourists yearly by 2030.  

He also noted that it supports the objectives of the Pilgrims Experience Program to facilitate access to the Two Holy Mosques. 

Skytrax Awards are decided yearly by passenger votes through comprehensive surveys and are among the most coveted awards in the aviation industry worldwide. 

Flynas connects more than 70 domestic and international destinations with over 1,500 weekly flights, aiming to reach 165 destinations, in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.


World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt
Updated 24 June 2024
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World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

CAIRO: The World Bank has approved $700 million in financing to support Egypt’s private sector, economic resilience and green growth.

The Development Policy Financing operation is designed to help Egypt address short-term economic challenges while advancing structural reforms to spur private sector growth.

It also aims to hasten Egypt’s green transition, including by scaling up renewable energy and increasing efficiency in the electricity, water and sanitation sectors.

Egypt’s minister of international cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, said: “The government of Egypt is undertaking ambitious economic and structural reforms aimed at creating a more competitive, green and private sector-led economy.

“Through this budget support instrument, the DPF with the World Bank helps advance policy reforms on three of its top national priorities: Building macro-fiscal resilience, enhancing economic competitiveness and improving the business environment, and supporting the green transition.

“Our longstanding partnership with the World Bank underpins the realization of Egypt’s development and reform efforts.”

The DPF is the first in a series of three operations.

It will advance key reforms, including strengthening governance for state-owned enterprises, empowering the the Egyptian Competition Authority, ensuring accuracy in payroll taxes, scaling up renewable energy and launching a voluntary carbon credit market regulatory framework.

In March, the World Bank Group announced a three-year $6 billion program to support Egypt.

“Creating good, sustainable jobs and building resilience to climate change are critical for the current and future prosperity of Egypt’s citizens — especially the poor and vulnerable,” said Stephane Guimbert, World Bank country director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

“Reforms supported by this operation are an important step toward a more sustainable, inclusive economy,” he added.

Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation said that the DPF is aligned with the World Bank and Egypt’s Country Partnership Framework for FY2023-FY2027.

The framework is based on research by the World Bank Group on Egypt, including the Country Private Sector Diagnostic and the Country Climate and Development Report.

Of the $700 million in the DPF, $200 million is contingent on complementary financing from development partners.

The ministry added that the DPF aligns with Egypt’s development priorities and national strategies, including the Sustainable Development Strategy Vision 2030, the State Ownership Policy, the National Climate Change Strategy 2050, and the Nexus of Water, Food and Energy.
 


Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

RIYADH: The world’s largest renewable energy survey will take place in Saudi Arabia, it has been announced – with the installation of 1,200 measuring stations.

The Kingdom’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated the Geographic Survey Project for Renewable Energy, stating that it is unprecedented in its scope and aims to pinpoint optimal sites for  solar and wind power initiatives across the Kingdom, according to an official release. 

The minister highlighted the project’s global significance, stating that no other country has undertaken a geographic survey of this magnitude. 

The undertaking, part of the National Renewable Energy Program, will conduct an extensive geographic survey covering over 850,000 sq. km, with contracts awarded to Saudi companies. 

This area, excluding populated regions, sand dunes, and airspace restrictions, is equivalent to the combined landmasses of the UK and France or Germany and Spain. 

The survey will identify the best locations for renewable energy development based on resource availability and strategic priorities.

The initiative will contribute to achieving the Kingdom’s goal of having renewable power sources make up about 50 percent of the energy mix for electricity production by 2030. 

It will also support the nation’s Liquid Fuel Displacement Program, which aims to displace 1 million barrels per day of liquid fuels across utilities, industry, and agriculture sectors by 2030.

Starting in 2024, Saudi Arabia plans to launch new renewable energy projects with an annual capacity of 20 gigawatts, aiming to reach between 100 and 130 GW by 2030, depending on electricity demand. 

The project’s initial phase will involve deploying stations across the designated areas to gather comprehensive data. 

These stations will then be relocated to identified sites for permanent installation, providing continuous data collection. 

Solar energy measurement stations will record Direct Normal Irradiance, Global Horizontal Irradiance, Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance, dust and pollutant levels, albedo, ambient temperature, rainfall, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. 

Wind energy stations will measure wind speed, direction, temperature, pressure, and humidity at heights up to 120 meters. 

Data collection will employ the latest technologies and adhere to global quality standards. 

A platform by the ministry will monitor, record, and transmit the information, using artificial intelligence to assess and rank sites for renewable energy projects. 

The minister noted that the accuracy and continuous updating of the project’s data make it financeable in accordance with the requirements of relevant local and international institutions.

He added that this will contribute significantly to the immediate allocation of land lots for renewable energy projects and expedite initiative announcement and execution, after coordination with relevant authorities.

The undertaking aims to reduce the current 18 to 24-month waiting period for data acquisition, minimizing risks and enhancing investment attractiveness in the renewable energy sector, he added. 

The minister further stated that this project reaffirms Saudi Arabia’s commitment to its ambitious renewable energy targets, including producing and exporting eco-friendly energy and clean hydrogen.


Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

RIYADH: Collaborations in city development, green technologies, and infrastructure financing were discussed by officials from Saudi Arabia and the UK at a special event in London.

The UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, held on June 24, brought together over 250 leaders from the industry and financial sectors of both countries, along with key representatives from major giga-projects. 

This follows robust bilateral relations, with both countries signing an agreement in late 2022 to enhance cooperation on green finance, as Saudi Arabia increasingly seeks ethical funding for its transformative giga-projects. 

The Kingdom has committed to ambitious climate goals, including a target to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030 and to increase renewable energy generation capacity by 50 percent. 

The Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli said: “This summit offers an excellent platform to adopt and share knowledge gained from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 sustainable development plans. Saudi Arabia is investing more in infrastructure than any other country in the Middle East region, including in 14 new giga-projects.”   

He added: “This investment, combined with the City of London’s expertise and leadership in sustainable finance, can set a global template for sustainable development.” 

The summit, organized by the Saudi British Joint Business Council in collaboration with the City of London Corp. and hosted at Plaisterers’ Hall in London, centered on discussions about urbanization, sustainable city development, and financing strategies, highlighting the expansion of green technologies and renewable energy solutions. 

The event was attended by a high-level Saudi delegation led by the Ministry of Investment and the Federation of Saudi Chambers. It builds on prior SBJBC and COLC gatherings, reinforcing the established Saudi-UK dialogue on clean energy development and decarbonization in the business sector. 

It also follows the recent Great Futures event held by the UK in Riyadh, underscoring increasing participation by UK companies in Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives aimed at transforming economic sectors and advancing giga project development. 

The event, supported by lead sponsors NEOM and Saudi Awwal Bank, underscores the importance of UK-Saudi cooperation in developing sustainable infrastructure and advancing the green transition. 

“I’m delighted to host this crucial summit. Sustainable infrastructure around the world is essential to tackling climate change, boosting economic development, and ensuring access to vital provisions such as transport, energy, and water,” said Mainelli. 

The panels delved into bridging the investment gap, utilizing smart urban planning for resilient and livable communities, and expanding initiatives in green technology and renewable energy. 


Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 
Updated 24 June 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 32.93 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 11,697.04.       

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.6 billion ($2.3 billion), as 115 of the listed stocks advanced while 109 retreated.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu dropped 47.75 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 26,777.87. This comes as 21 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 33 retreated. 

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index also dropped 5.07 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 1,470.61.  

TASI’s best-performing stock of the day was Miahona Co. The company’s share price surged 9.93 percent to SR23.46.     

Other top performers include Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. as well as Jazan Development and Investment Co., whose share prices soared by 7.88 percent and 6.92 percent to stand at SR91.70 and SR15.46, respectively.   

Additional top performers include Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. and Electrical Industries Co. 

The worst performer was Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., whose share price dropped by 5.99 percent to SR8.32.    

Other firms to see a drop were Mouwasat Medical Services Co. as well as ACWA Power Co., whose share prices dropped by 3.69 percent and 3.56 percent to stand at SR120.20 and SR351.80, respectively.   

Additional falling performers include Theeb Rent a Car Co. and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group.     

In Nomu, Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. was the top gainer, with its share price rising by 16.80 percent to SR60.50.    

Other strong performers in Nomu were Mohammed Hadi Al Rasheed and Partners Co. as well as Al Mohafaza Co. for Education, whose share prices soared by 7.58 percent and 6.50 percent to stand at SR35.50 and SR20, respectively.   

Other top gainers include Future Care Trading Co. and Saudi Lime Industries Co.  

Mulkia Investment Co. was the major faller on Nomu, as its share price dropped 9.80 percent to SR31.30.    

The share prices of Alwasail Industrial Co. as well as Lana Medical Co. also fell by 4.68 percent and 4.47 percent to stand at SR2.65 and SR33.10, respectively.   

Other major losers include Saudi Top for Trading Co. and Jahez International Co. for Information System Technology.