GCC Startup Ecosystem News | May 2020

GCC Ecosystem report, Ecosystem news, startup news, MENA startups, Dubai startup, Careem, Kitopi, EMPG, Wamda Arabnet report, Covid-19 impact, OLX Group, Swvl, Instabug, Yallacompare, Invygo, Magnitt, Hub71, BECO capital, DIFC, Innovation License, Okadoc, Pointcheckout, 360Vuz, Fetchr, ADGM, Uber, Uber Eats, Careem NOW, Dubai Smart City Accelerator, Dtec Ventures, Dtec Coworking, Dubai coworking, coworking space duba, Dubai investor, startup investor, Dtec community

This report is also available in a downloadable PDF version via this link: GCC Startup Ecosystem News Roundup – May 2020


  • Covid 19’s impact felt by region’s startups – Startups have either pivoted or scaled back their operations. Vulnerable sectors such as travel & mobility haven seen suspension or shut down of operations. E grocery, edtech and fintech saw increase in demand. More from the Wamda Arabnet Report
  • A new MENA unicorn born amidst the pandemic – Following Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), latest funding round led global classifieds business OLX Group of $150 million, EMPG is now reportedly valued at $1 billion, becoming the latest MENA Unicorn.


Startup Sector / Industry Location Amount & Round Investors
Swvl Transportation Egypt $20M, undisclosed round Undisclosed
Instabug SaaS Egypt $5M, Series A led by Accel Partners, with angels
Yallacompare Finance UAE $4.25M, undisclosed Gulf Insurance Group
Brimore Retail Egypt $3.5M, Pre-Series A led by Algebra Ventures, with 500 Startups, Vision Ventures, et al
Grintafy Technologies Sports KSA $1.25M, Seed led by Wa’ed Ventures, with Nafithat Al Mustagbal Investments
Invygo Automotive UAE $1M, Pre-Series A led by  EQ2 Ventures, Class 5 Global, and 500 Startups
Ogram Human Resources UAE $870K, Pre-Series A Global Ventures
Ziina Finance UAE $850K, Pre-Seed led by Class 5 Global (USA), with Sami Toukan and other angels
Shahry Finance Egypt $650K, Pre-Seed EgBank
Pravica IoT Egypt $500K, Pre-Seed led by 500 Startups, with Modus Capital and DYRES Capital
Source Beauty Beauty Egypt Undisclosed amount, Seed 500 Startups
AHOY Logistics UAE Undisclosed amount, Seed Undisclosed private investor
Telgani Automotive KSA Undisclosed amount, Seed 500 Startups, Saudi Venture Capital Company, Impact46 et al
Evergo Consumer Services Bahrain Undisclosed Tenmou
Unipal Finance Bahrain Undisclosed Tenmou and Flat6Labs Bahrain


Report: The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Mena


  • Data collected from 247 startup founders and includes research supplemented by Arabnet and Wamda.
  • Close to 50% of startups that responded to the survey reported that they have a cash runway of less than 6 months
  • Out of the e-commerce startups, 54.2% have a runway of less than 6 months, a third of logistics startups have between 1 and 2 months of runway left
  • Half of the region’s startups have also witnessed an impact to their latest funding round
  • Only 12% of startups have a runway of more than 12 months


  • DIFC launches Innovation License. Whereas, they previously focused on Fintech companies, the new license is available for all startups from any sector
  • Hub71 to cover all employees’ housing and office space rent for two months for its 50+ startups housed in the hub as support during Covid-19 pandemic
  • Hub71 partners with Mastecard to open market access for Hub71 startups in Mastercard’s Start Path startup engagement program


  • BECO Capital launches “Launch with BECO”, a pre-seed initiative to fund 10 exceptional founders or founding teams with $150K in exchange for 10% equity
  • BeyondCapital announces its USD 500K Rapid Response Capital Program for selected 11 portfolio companies
  • The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund and Beehive expand SME eligibility for their loan guarantee scheme, which has an allocation of AED20M


  • Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), acquires Lamudi Global as it expands to the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico.
  • PointCheckout wins EUvsVirus Hackathon as most innovative solution for speeding distribution of financial support in the Digital Finance
  • 360Vuz selected as a Broadcast Partner to stream “The Call to Unite”, a US-based community event to raise funds for the Covid-19 relief effort.
  • Doctor-booking appointment platform Okadoc launches telemedicine solution in UAE with 38 healthcare providers signed up
  • Fetchr appoints former UPS Managing Director (Middle East) Hussein Wehbe, as new CEO
  • Dubai-based cloud kitchen platform Kitopi lays of 124 jobs (10% of its workforce) in its New York office
  • Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ launches Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI) Fund of AED1.1B targeting early-stage India & Southeast Asia companies to setup HQ in  Masdar City
  • Careem discontinues its mass transporation business, Careem Bus. The service was first launched less than 18 months ago in Egypt, and later on in KSA, Pakistan and Jordan
  • Careem lays off 536 employees (31% of its workforce). This brings the total count in the last six months to 700 employees, following their workforce reduction of 150 staff early in 2020
  • Uber Q1 2020 financial results show a loss of $2.94 billion including $277 million in stock-based compensation expense and pre-tax impairment write-downs of $2.1 billion
  • Uber to lay off 3,700 full-time employees (14%) from their customer support and recruitment teams in a bid to reduce operating expenses as the business is down by over 80%
  • Uber Eats (Uber’s food delivery arm) to exit KSA, Egypt in MENA + 5 other markets effective 4th June 2020. For their UAE market, they will transfer their operations to Careem NOW


  • Dubia Smart City Accelerator wraps ups its 4th cohort with a virtual demo day featuring 10 startups in  SaaS, Foodtech, E-commerce, Gig Economy, Legal tech, Fintech, Edtech, Proptech, and Mobility & Logistics sectors



Matt Mullenweg (WordPress)Gradually, Then Suddenly

Morgan HouselThe Three Sides of Risk


A curated list of essential articles and updates on the Corona pandemic, its impact on the regional ecosystem and approaches on how founders and startups can navigate the current landscape





On support initiatives or stimulus packages:

Published reports: