This report is also available in a downloadable PDF version via this link: GCC Startup Ecosystem News Roundup – 2021 July
- Kitopi: The new unicorn on the block:With its Series C funding round of $415M, Dubai-based cloud kitchen startup Kitopi becomes the third Middle Eastern unicorn. The round is largest-ever raised by a venture-backed company in the Middle East & North Africa. It is also the first investment by SoftBank in a Middle Eastern company
- Swvl eyes IPO via SPAC:Dubai-based ride-sharing company Swvl plans to go public in a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, Swvl said Tuesday. The deal will see Swvl valued at roughly $1.5 billion.
|Startup||Sector / Industry||Location||Amount & Round||Investors|
|Kitopi||F&B||UAE||$415M Series C||led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, from Chimera, DisruptAD, B. Riley, Dogus Group, Next Play Capital and Nordstar|
|MaxAB||Consumer Services||Egypt||$40M Series A||led by RMBV, from IFC, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream|
|iWire||IoT||UAE||$34M Series A||led by Noor Capital, from Bpifrance|
|Selfologi||Health & beauty||UAE||$17.5M undisclosed round||led by Tamer A Wali (angel) and Xenel International group.|
|Nejree||Fashion||KSA||$15M Series A||led by Impact46|
|elmenus||F&B||Egypt||$10M Pre-Series C||led by Fawry, Luxor Capital (USA) and Marakez|
|Yodawy||Health||Egypt||$7.5M Series B||led by MEVP, Global Ventures, Algebra Ventures; from CVentures, P1 Ventures, et al|
|Taager||Social commerce / Logistics||UAE||$5M Series A,||led by Draper Associates (USA), from Global Ventures, B&Y Ventures|
|Udrive||Transportation||UAE||$5M undisclosed round||Cherif Sleiman of Infoblox and Asif Keshodia|
|Sabbar||Human resources||KSA||$4M Pre-Series A||led by STV, from Derayah VC and SEEDRA Ventures|
|GoodsMart||Consumer services||Egypt||$3.6M, undisclosed round||led by Sawari Ventures|
|Sehteq||Heath insurance||UAE||$3M debt financing||971 Capital|
|Wajeez||Education||Jordan||$3M Pre-Series A||led by STV, from Shorooq Partners, Mawdoo3, and Wise Venture|
|WeDeliver||Logistics||KSA||$2.4M Pre-Seed||from Salasel Alemdad, VEST investment company, Paltel Telecom Group, et al|
|Speero||Automotive||KSA||$1.8M Pre-Series A||led by Nuwa Capital and EQ2 Ventures, from JIMCO, Impact46, Access Bridge Ventures et al|
|IR4LAB||Human Resources||KSA||$1.5M undisclosed round||Wa’ed (Aramco)|
|Spendwisor||Finance||Qatar||$1M pre-Seed||led by Erhama Nasser Al-Kaabi and other angels|
|Yalla Xash||Finance||Morocco||$675K Series A||Maroc Numeric Fund II|
|Estshara||Health||Egypt||$500K Seed||led by Egypt Ventures|
|Damanesign||Enterprise SaaS||Morocco||$450K undisclosed round||led by Maroc Numeric Fund II|
|LNKO||Consumer services||Morocco||$335K||CDG Invest|
|Clara||Legal||UAE||Undisclosed amount & round||DIFC Fintech Fund|
|Ketish||Health / wellness||UAE||undisclosed amount, Seed||Huda Beauty Angels|
|Majarra||Media & Entertainment||UAE||undisclosed amount & round||North Base Media|
|Nawy||Real estate||Egypt||undisclosed amount, Seed||led by Sawiris family office|
|ShipBlu||Logistics||Egypt||undisclosed amount, Pre-Seed||led by Nama Ventures, from Y-Combinator and angel investors from San Francisco, CA, and Saudi Arabia.|
|WorkFam||Human resources||UAE||undisclosed amount & round||Gellify, Azimut Digitech Fund|
Insights from MENA H1 2021 (Source: Magnitt)
- H1 2021 recorded $1.2BN invested in MENA based startups across the region. This surpasses the capital raised for the whole of 2020 of $1.1BN by 12%.
Note: The figures exclude venture debt investments, an instrument that is relatively new in the region
- The record funding was boosted by Kitopi’s $415M mega deal
- Despite overall VC funding in MENA observing a high amount, the number of transactions dropped by 20% YoY
- Top 3 MENA countries: UAE (26%), Egypt (24%), KSA (21%). Among the three, Egypt is the only country to observe a deal count increase YoY. While KSA almost closed the deal count gap with UAE with the latter being ahead by only 11 deals
- Increased international appetite for MENA startups. Soft Bank’s participation along with Disrupt AD, Riley amongst others reflects a growing international interest in local startups. Early this year Sequoia made its first investment in the MENA region along with other regular international investors including Endeavour Catalyst, MSA Capital, Kingsway capital and Tiger Global.
- Honed focus on later stage investment highlighting the gradual maturity of the ecosystem. Investors’ preference for transactions at later stage deals over riskier earlier stage startups in 2020 is seen this year. This raises the concern around neglecting early-stage investment which sets the pipeline for future deal flow.
- Investor returns starting to bear dividends. H1 2021 sees the seeing the return of Exits in the MENA region with companies such as Mumzworld, Spotii and Synkers.
- HH Sheikh Mohammed launches the National Program for Coders in collaboration with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, IBM, HPE, LinkedIn, Nvidia and Facebook, with the aim of training and attracting 100,000 coders, establishing 1000 digital companies within five years and increasing investment in startups from AED 1.5 billion to AED 4 billion
- Dubai’s Ruler also announced the new structure for Dubai’s business chambers with the creation of 3 entities: Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, and Dubai International Chamber. The Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is tasked with launching projects and developing studies on the new future economy to transform Dubai into an international tech hub.
- Abu Dhabi reduces business setup as well as license renewal fees to AED 1,000 under efforts led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). The new fees include six activities within the business licence and will cover all fees from Abu Dhabi Government entities. Federal fees will continue to apply.
- Amazon is set to launch Amazon.eg in Egypt later in 2021, with Amazon Seller Central, the company’s seller management tool, now open for registration in Egypt via sell.amazon.eg, where individuals can set up their accounts.
- Event management software startup Eventtus (Egypt) gets acquired by US-based Bevy, an enterprise software startup for virtual conferences and community events. The acquisition will add mobile in-person conference app to Bevy’s tech stack.
- Saudi Research & Media Group (SRMG), acquired a 51 percent stake in the Arabic podcast platform Thmanyah. SRMG is paying $9M, giving the startup a valuation of $17.4M
- Careem announced an extension of its partnership with Justmop, to offer PCR testing across Dubai for AED 199, with results in 24-hours. This follows the release of their “Get Vaccinated” tool in March 2021, a feature that allows customers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman to book a ride to a vaccination site with just two taps
- Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) invests in three tech companies as part of its Dh2 billion ($545 million) Innovation Programme: UAE-based last-mile delivery Lyve and home services marketplace Rizek and UK-based AI-driven authentication solutions provider Callsign. The startups are provided with competitive financial incentives, including rebates on highly skilled payroll and high-tech CAPEX, as well as non-financial incentives, such as support with establishment processes and ecosystem engagement
- US-based Liquidity Capital partners with Dubai-based Yas Investments to launch a $100M sector-agnostic venture debt fund in ADGM, focused on financing Mena-based tech startups
- Creative Zone, the UAE’s largest business start-up consultancy, partners with Sharjah Media City (Shams) to launch an accelerator programme, StartupX. The program will annually invest AED100,000 ($27,225) worth of business support services in four selected startups. They will also receive year-long free trade license from Sharjah Media City, free banking, discounted insurance protection, among other benefits
- Google selects 12 startups for its 2nd cohort of Google for Startups Accelerator MENA, three-month digital accelerator program for Seed to Series A technology startups based in the region. The 12 tech startups come from six Arab countries across automotive, agriculture, fitness, fintech, real-estate, e-commerce and entertainment sectors.
- Hub71 has been selected by Abu Dhabi Residents Office, a division of the Department of Economic Development (ADDED), to endorse exceptional tech talent across sectors such as FinTech, HealthTech, EdTech, E-commerce, AI and big data for their Entrepreneur Golden Visa from Abu Dhabi.
ARTICLES WORTH READING
- The 2021 MENA Sprint: Records are set to be broken!
- The Wrap Up: Insights from MENA H1 2021
- Falling tide of accelerators: Explaining the slump in VC deal flow
- How the gig economy is disrupting the region’s startup ecosystem
- Can Dubai become the capital for next-gen healthtech startups?