Weekly Startup Ecosystem Overview in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / August 19 – September 1

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In this blog series, we will publish entrepreneurship news from MENA (the Middle East and Northern Africa) region. (1)

Entrepreneurship ecosystem of the week: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian startup ecosystem benefits from investors and innovative startups that are open to the development and support of startups. Saudi Arabia is the largest technology market in the Arab MENA region, with a technology sector of over $40 billion. The Saudi Arabian market is a suitable area for the oil industry’s major funding source, where innovative startups can develop and test their products and services.

If we look at State subsidies in the Saudi Arabian ecosystem, the Saudi government focuses on enhancing economic diversification through policies to develop the private sector and increase participation. It lays out different start-up programs in line with the Vision 2030 strategy, which is Saudi Arabia’s plan to reduce its dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop its public services sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. The Kingdom provides support to different startups and investors to move Saudi Arabia to an economic model that dominates innovation processes.

One of these is the “Technology Growth Financing” initiative, which guarantees technology startups and SMEs up to 90% of the fund amount. A program to support micro, small and medium-size businesses. It supports the development and growth of SMEs by establishing a strategic partnership with the SMEs Financing Guarantee Program “Kafalah” by the National Technology Development Program (NTDP).

  • According to a review of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia startup ecosystem, Saudi Arabia ranks 10th in the Middle East & Africa region according to the StartupBlink (2)
  •  – Startup Ecosystem Report 2022, and it ranks 72th in the world.
  • According to the “Wamda 2021 Year in review – Investments in Mena” report, 138 startups received $647 million in investment in the Saudi Arabia startup ecosystem in 2021. 

Featured Startups: Tamara, Unifonic, FalconViz, Red Sea Farms, Zid زد, JollyChic, Jahez, Nearpay, Foodics, Nana Direct, Sary, Lean Technologies, Retailo, Geidea, Foodics, stc pay, Salla, PayTabs, Fordeal, Lendo, ACWA Power

Featured Startup Sectors: Hardware, Transportation, Ecommerce 

Featured Accelerator/Incubator: KAUST Innovation Fund, Nomow Incubator, Riyadh Valley Company,  BIAC Incubators, Misk Growth Accelerator, TAQNIA – Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company,  Startups House, Wadi Makkah, Blossom,  InspireU, Wa’ed, 9/10th Start Up Accelerator, Taqadam,Badir Program for Technology Incubator, Falak Business Hub, SURE International Technology, MBSC Venture Lab, Misk 500 MENA Accelerator, Sheworks,  Holol Business Incubator, King Adulaziz University Accelerator,  King Saud University Entrepreneurship Institute

Featured Investors: Raed Ventures, Impact46, STV,  Nama Ventures,  Khwarizmi Ventures, Riyad TAQNIA Fund (RTF), Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Saudi Venture Capital Company, SEEDRA, Sukna Ventures, Vision Ventures, Riyadh Valley Company, Hala Venture Capital, Inspire, Alriyadah Investments, Majd Investment, Merak Capital 

Top News

There were 11 investments and 4 secondary transactions in the MENA between 19 August- 2 September:


5 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 3 Egypt, 1 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and 1 Qatar. 


3 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 1 Egypt 


1 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)-based investor financed the EU-based startup.

Sectors Received Investments:

2 Fintech

2 Logistics 

1 e-Commerce 

1 Sport

1 AdTech

1 EdTech

1 Real Estate

1 Health

1 Subscription Service

🎯 Advertising intelligence platform ArabyAds received investment.

ArabyAds, UAE-HQ advertising intelligence platform, raised $30M in pre-series B funding from AfricInvest’s AfricInvest Maghreb Private Equity Fund IV. The company was founded in 2013 in Egypt, and has since moved HQ to the UAE and launched offices in Tunisia and Jordan. It will use the funding to expand to new markets.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $30.000.000

Investors: AfricInvest Maghreb Private Equity Fund IV

Co-founders: Mahmoud Fathy, Mohammad Khartabil

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🎯 Buy Now Pay Later(BNPL) startup Tamara received mega-investment.

Saudi-based Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) startup Tamara has raised $100 million in Series B funding led by Sanabil Investments and joined by Coatue, Shorooq Partners, Endeavor Catalyst and Checkout.com.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $100.000.000

Investors: Sanabil Investments, Coatue, Shurooq Partners, Endeavor Catalyst, Checkout.com

Co-founders:  Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Turki Bin Zarah, Abdulmohsen Albabtain

Country: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

🎯 UAE-based Fintech Zywa received an investment.

Zywa, a UAE-based Gen Z-focused neobank, has raised $3 million in seed funds at a $30 million valuation from Goodwater Capital, Dubai Future District Fund, Rebel Fund, Tramboline Venture Partners, Zemu VC and angel investors. Zywa was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 cohort.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $3.000.000

Valuation: $30.000.000

Investors: Goodwater Capital, Dubai Future District Fund, Rebel Fund, Trampoline Venture Partners, Zemu VC, Angel Investors.

Co-founders: Alok Kumar, Nuha Hashem 

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🎯 Sports technology startup Sponix Tech received an investment.

Sponix Tech, the Qatar-based sports technology company, raised funding from UK’s Aser Ventures with undisclosed value. Sponix Tech was provides multiple technologies such as immersive replay, and virtual advertisements. Its technology is being used by beIn Sport and UEFA.TV.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: Aser Ventures

Co-founders: Mohammad Ali Abbaspour

Country: Qatar

🎯 Egypt-based EdTech startup OBM Education received investment.

EdTech OBM Education, which provides career counseling, and advice to pre-college students and assists with their education, has raised a six-figure amount from EdVentures.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: EdVentures

Co-founders: Omar El-Barbary, Ezz El-Din Farag

Country: Egypt

🎯 Luxembourg-based 5G satellite operator OQ Technology received investment.

Satellite operator OQ Technology has received a 13 million Euro Series A investment under the joint leadership of Saudi Arabia-based Aramco subsidiary Wa’ed Ventures and Greece-based 5G Ventures fund Phaistos Investment Fund.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: € 13.000.000

Investors: Wa’ed Ventures, 5G Ventures

Co-founders: Omar Qaise

Country: Luxembourg

🎯 Egyptian E-Commerce startup Zeew Raises Seed Funding

Egypt-based e-commerce SaaS Platform Plug and Play, Poland Prize, and a group of angel investors received a seed investment of USD  630 K.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $ 630.000 

Investors: Plug and Play, Poland Prize, Angel Investors

Co-founders: Mohamed Ghaith

Country: Egypt

🎯 The UAE-based startup Cargoz, which offers storage solutions, received an investment.

The UAE-based startup Cargoz, a logistics startup that connects companies looking for storage space with companies providing commercial warehousing and warehousing services, has raised pre-seed funding round from Nama Ventures.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: Nama Ventures

Co-founders: Premlal Pullisserry, Lijo Antony 

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🛒 Egyptian Startup valU Acquires HR Startup Paynas.

Egypt-based pay-now startup valU has acquired Paynas, which helps micro and mid-sized businesses manage their HR needs.

Transaction Type: Acquisition

Investment Amount:

Investors: valU 

Co-founders: Mohamed Mounir ElHashemy, Motaz Lotfy(Paynas)

Country: Egypt

🛒 Conektr, FMCG B2B marketplace, acquired by UAE-based AlMaya Group.

AlMaya Group, UAE-based retailer, acquired a majority stake in Conektr for an undisclosed value.

Transaction Type: Acquisition

Investment Amount:

Investors: Huspy

Co-founders: Madhusudhanan Janakarajan (Conektr)

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🛒 Just Mortgages was acquired by UAE’s PropTech startup Huspy.

Just Mortgages, which provides mortgage and real estate transactions advisory services, has been acquired by Huspy.

Transaction Type: Acquisition

Investors: Huspy 

Co-founders: Ramesh Khemani (Just Mortgages)

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🛒 Finance Lab was acquired by UAE’s PropTech startup Huspy.

Finance Lab, which provides real estate financing through a network of banking partnerships, has been acquired by Huspy.

Transaction Type: Acquisition

Investors: Huspy 

Co-founders: Manish Bhagnari  (Finance Lab)

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🎯 Saudi-based Intercity logistics service Ala Darbi application closes its investment round.

Ala Darbi, the startup that connects users who want to send their shipments to the inner city or to other cities with drivers, received a seed investment of 3.75 million Saudi riyals (one million USD) through an angel investor.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: 3.75 M Saudi Riyals (SR) 

Investors:  Angel Investor

Co-founders: Bader Al-Adeel

Country: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

🎯 Egypt-based startup SubsBase received investment.

Egyptian cloud-based subscription, recurring revenue, and invoice management platform SubsBase has received a seed investment of USD 2.4 Mn led by Global Ventures.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $ 2.400.000 

Investors: Global Ventures, HALA Ventures, P1 Ventures, Plus Venture Capital, Plug and Play, Ingressive Capital, Camel Ventures, Falak Startups, Arzan Venture Capital

Co-founders: Mohamed M. Farag, Sherif Aziz

Country: Egypt

🎯 UAE-based online coupon management startup Mintroute receives investment.

Offering an end-to-end solution for managing gift cards and online coupons, startup Mintroute has received investment from Razer Gold, a payment services provider for gamers.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors:  Razer Gold

Co-founders: Samar Mushainesh,Martin Waldenstrom

Country: United Arab Emirates 

🎯 Egypt-based artificial intelligence-supported health startup Rology has received investment.

Rology, a healthcare startup in the field of teleradiology, which provides support for patients’ radiology images by using artificial intelligence technologies, received investment from From Here Ventures.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors:  From Here Ventures (Impact Africa Network)

Co-founders: Amr Abodraiaa

Country: Egypt

🎯 UAE-based real estate investment platform Stake received pre-Series A investment.

Offering the opportunity to invest in real estate, platform Stake received $8M pre-Series A investment from BY Ventures, MEVP and Vivium Holdings.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $ 8.000.000 

Investors: BY Ventures, MEVP, Vivium Holdings

Co-founders: Manar Mahmassani, Rami Tabbara, Ricardo Prezido

Country: United Arab Emirates 

 ✏️A Slice of Entrepreneurship 🍰

 “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

  • Peter Drucker


Other News:

📌 Egypt-based private electricity and solar company KarmSolar is raising capital to finance expansion plans. The investment tour is supported by US-based Synergy Consulting as a consultant.

📌 Danish Refugee Council partners with BeyondCapital to support entrepreneurship with a refugee focus. The partnership will focus on early-stage companies that serve refugee communities in Jordan, founded by refugees or employ refugee youth. Startups will be supported by grants of up to $40,000 under the RYSE project.

📌 The Algeria Startup Fund (ASF) will invest $411 million in local startups. The Algeria Startup Fund (ASF) signed an agreement with the Algeria General Directorate of the Treasury to invest in local startups.

📌 Mr Mandoob, a Saudi-based on-demand logistics startup,raises a new funding round of SAR 5M.

📌 B2B SAAS solution provider FOO in the UAE-based Finance industry has collaborated with UK-based Paymentology, which offers banks and fintech cards and credit cards with international payment systems in different countries.

📌 Applications for the 3rd term of the Growth Accelerator program, organized by Microsoft for Startups, have started. The 10-week program focuses on technology startups from Türkiye, the Middle East and Pakistan.

📌 Geneva-based beauty brand L’Occitane has launched a MENA-focused Accelerator Program. The accelerator will run for 4 months at The Greenhouse in the Dubai Design District.

📌 Chatfood, an omnichannel ordering and data-driven marketing platform with a base in the United Arab Emirates, has announced a logistical delivery agreement with Careem Express. This partnership will make it easier for restaurant owners in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to quickly access a delivery fleet.

📌 According to registration with the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), Orascom Financial Holding (OFH), an Egypt-based financial services company, revealed plans to establish a venture capital (VC) fund with a capital of $15 million to $26 million

Details of the Weekly Overview

The countries that we count in MENA are: (1)

Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Mauritania, Djibouti. 

We will also provide brief information about one of the startup ecosystems from the MENA region each week.

Accordingly, if we examine the entrepreneurial climate in Mena countries, their geographic location gives them access to sizable markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in MENA is flourishing and expanding as a result, the region has seen a significant rise in the number of startups and the amount of funding in recent years.

The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region invested a total of $2.8 billion in 639 deals in 2021, according to the “Wamda 2021 Year in review – Investments in Mena” 2021 report, despite market instability, challenges in the global economy, rising borrowing prices, and operational costs

StartupBlink Ecosystem Index Score (2)

In the system where StartupBlink evaluates startup ecosystems and creates a scoring index, the differences between ecosystems according to the quantity, quality, and business environment measurement of the ecosystem and the ranking of the ecosystems of the countries are provided. 

In the evaluation of index;

Quantity refers to the number of startups, accelerators, coworking spaces, and startup-related meetups in the ecosystem.

Quality includes traction of over 100,000 entities in all ecosystems (including traffic, domain authority, and customer base), branches of multinational companies, number of employees per startup, number and size of global startup events and conferences, presence of Unicorns, Exits, and Pantheon companies, and more.

Business Environment Score mainly focused on parameters at the country level, since national infrastructure, policies, and legislation generally affect all cities within a country. Diversity index, internet speed, internet freedom, Number of patents per capita, and level of English proficiency are some of the elements that are taken into account for the calculation of the Business Environment Score.


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