Weekly Startup Ecosystem Overview in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / September 2 –  September 8

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

Entrepreneurship ecosystem of the week: United Arab Emirates

With a thriving innovation system, the culture of entrepreneurship has evolved greatly in the United Arab Emirates over the past few years. The regulatory environment, government policies and geographic location offering strategic access to global markets were the main reasons that could attract entrepreneurs and Venture Capital (VC) firms in the region to a country.

In order to support economic diversification and innovation, a business environment that attracts entrepreneurs and investors, who are key components in economic development, was targeted. Government-led strategies and enabling policies have enriched the opportunities available in various industries. By reducing its dependence on the energy sector, it offered job opportunities in various sectors such as technology, tourism, health and accommodation.

The UAE offers many opportunities for the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The absence of corporate taxes and no import or export taxes makes it attractive for startups. The UAE offers 100% refund of income and profits and up to 50% discounts on more than 1,500 government fees.

When we examine the ecosystems, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are important locations in the region, lead as the main startup ecosystem. Dubai is an innovation hub and popular relocation location for Arab entrepreneurs, and Abu Dhabi offers to be a thriving startup and technology hub with government-sponsored programs to foster entrepreneurship. It also hosts multiple accelerators and incubators. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been an attractive market, with a competent, interconnected infrastructure and a multicultural talent pool and easy access to finance and regional markets.

The UAE also launched the Entrepreneurial Nation project, which aims to help entrepreneurs establish and develop new innovative ventures.

  • According to a review of the United Arab Emirates startup ecosystem, United Arab Emirates ranks 2th in the Middle East according to the StartupBlink(2) Startup Ecosystem Report 2022, and it ranks 27th in the world.
  • According to the “Wamda 2021 Year in review – Investments in Mena”  report, in the startup ecosystem in 2021, United Arab Emirates startups received $1.46 billion in 138 deals.

Featured Startups: 

PISIQ, Englease, Careem, Ziina, GrubTech, Opontia, Matic, Hubpay, RIZEK, Property Finder, Souq, Foodics, Kitopi, Bayzat, RemotePass, Keepface, Fetchr, STARZ PLAY, Student.com, Stake, Cargoz, Dukkantek, FoxPush, Altibbi, Vezeeta, TruKKer, Pure Harvest Smart Farms, EMPG, Vortex Biotech, Odiggo, 99Starz

Featured Startup Sectors: Fintech, Transportation, Foodtech

Featured Accelerator/Incubator: Flat6Labs, Wamda, In5, Faster Capital, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), Dubai Future Accelerators, Krypto Labs, Seed Startup, FinTech Hive, Turn8

Featured Investors: Finablr, Flat6Labs, Jetty Ventures, Arzan Venture Capital, MBC Ventures, BECO Capital, Global Ventures – Dubai, Melwood Capital, Wamda Capital, Dale Ventures, Glowfish Partners, Shorooq Partners, Middle East Venture Partners, Jabbar Internet Group, Global Millennial Capital, FasterCapital, VentureSouq, Jisr Venture Partners, Mubadala Capital’s Ventures, Vy Capital

Top News

There were 6 investments in the MENA between 2 September – 8 September:

Investments: 

4 Egypt, 1 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 1 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

Sectors Received Investments:

3 Auto Industry

1 Edtech

1 E-commerce

1 Logistics 

🎯 Egypt-based car service startup 3atlana  raised a seed funding round 

Automotive repair startup 3atlana, which facilitates key auto services that drivers may need, such as scheduling maintenance, roadside assistance, and connecting to neighboring service providers, has raised six-figure start-up funding from Egypt-based Ghabbour Auto.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: Ghabbour Auto

Co-founders: Sherif Al-Adham, Ahmed Hassan, Amr Hisham

Country: Egypt

🎯 Egypt-based ed-tech startup Emonovo, raised a bridge funding round.

Emonovo(formerly MARJ3), a platform that helps young people find global education opportunities and scholarships, received a bridge investment led by angel investors and joined by Flat6Labs, the value of which has not been disclosed.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: Flat6Labs, Angel Investors

Co-founders:  Abdo Samy, Sami Al-Ahmad, Ahmed Elgebaly 

Country: Egypt

🎯 Automotive services platform CarLogik raised funding.

Carlogik, the platform that brings together UAE-based automobile users and contracted automotive service providers, has raised $272K in a pre-seed financing from angel investors.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:  $272.000

Investors: Angel Investors

Co-founders: Ali Omari, Wael Sasso

Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

🎯 Used car sales platform Carzami raised funding.

Egypt-based startup Carzami, which provides used car sales and financing, has increased a pre-seed financing round led by Contact Financial Holding, the value of which has not been disclosed.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount:

Investors: Contact Financial Holding 

Co-founders: Hussein Hosny, Adham Hosny

Country: Egypt

🎯 Offering e-commerce solutions, Egyptian El-Dokan has completed its pre-seed financing round. 

Providing enterprise e-commerce technology, El-Dokan received $550K pre-seed investment from EFG EV, Flat6Labs, 500 Global, and Hala Ventures.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $550.000 

Investors: EFG EV, Flat6Labs, 500 Global, Hala Ventures

Co-founders: Ahmed Maher, Mohammed Shirt, Sherif Alaa

Country: Egypt

🎯 Logistics startup TruKKer raised funding.

Saudi-based TruKKer, a digital freight network providing on-demand truck aggregator service, raised $100M in funding led by Investcorp and joined by Mubadala and other undisclosed investors.

Transaction Type: Investment

Investment Amount: $100.000.000

Investors:  Investcorp, Mubadala 

Co-founders: Gaurav Biswas, Pradeep Mallavarapu

Country:  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

 ✏️A Slice of Entrepreneurship 🍰

 “There are two main challenges in doing the right things: identifying what they are and then doing them.”

  • Harvard Business Review, HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done

 

Other News:

📌 The Bahrain Labour Fund “Tamkeen” announced its support for the “Trillion Tree Fund” concept with its Innovation Program.

📌 UAE-based Fintech Ziina expands its services to Jordan.

📌 SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy and Egypt-based VC Flat6labs have launched an AgriTech accelerator program for Egypt-based startups. The program aims to assist 12 startups in each cycle.

📌 Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) has invested in Jordan-based early-stage venture capital (VC) Propeller, focused on enterprise SaaS and cloud computing startups. The value of the investment was not disclosed. 

📌 UAE-based fintech Tabby, expanded operations to Egypt.

📌 Shezlong, a platform that connects users with licensed therapists via video calls, expanded operations to South Africa. Egypt-based startup Shezlong will continue in South Africa under the Upright brand.

📌 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund (NDF) has announced an $80 million Gaming and E-sports Industry Financing Program in collaboration with the Saudi Esports Federation and Digital Content Program “Ignite“.

📌 Egypt-based Endure Capital has completed the first closing of its US$50 million Endure 21 fund to invest in early-stage startups across Africa.

📌 Flat6Labs Jordan graduated 2nd batch of the Amman Seed Program. Each startup received up to $115,000 in equity funding with the program. 7 startups based in Jordan:

Quiqclaim: A fintech startup offering peer-to-peer financing for the medical insurance industry, bridging the liquidity gap for health care providers.

Arab Therapy: A web platform and mobile app offering digital mental health services and consultations in the Arabic language by highly qualified Arab therapists.

Bloom Cart: A try-before-you-buy plug-in software automating returns for e-commerce websites.

Shop4me: An online B2B marketplace that simplifies the complex procurement process by helping businesses find, order, and receive their supplies from prequalified suppliers.

Sukoon: A mindfulness mobile app that offers users tools and techniques for mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being in the form of Arabic audio recordings to enable personal transformation and growth.

Khareta: A data-driven real-estate marketplace that helps both buyers and sellers complete the transaction faster and with more confidence.

Ipass: An onboarding solution provider that aggregates world-class anti-fraud tools on one platform, allowing businesses to eliminate the risk of fraud while guaranteeing a high-quality client experience.

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

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 the 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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