With close to $659 million funding last year, the startup ecosystem is growing. Here are our top picks of the most funded startups in the region
With Delivery Hero acquiring Talabat, the German company has spent over $1.2 billion in the Middle East in the last five years, making it one the biggest acquirer of technology startups in the region, and Amazon’s acquisition of Souq, a 12-year-old Dubai-based eCommerce company, for $650 million in 2017, the MENA region’s entrepreneurship network has been growing over the last few years.
The MENA startups, buoyed by the rapid adoption of mobile technologies, have been receiving massive funds to expand their business, and 2020 set a high bar, with a record $659 million funding.
Here’s a list of startups primed to accelerate, having received the most funds in the MENA region.
Established in 2014 by Abdulaziz Al Jouf, the Saudi Arabia-based company specialises in B2B payments solutions. As per PayTabs, it has processed transactions in 168 currencies across 49 business sectors until now. The company has received $92 million in funding and reportedly $26 million in 2020. It focuses on increasing the business all across the MENA region, Southeast Asia, and in countries in Africa and Europe. PayTabs is backed by Saudi Aramco through its investment arm Waed Entrepreneurs Venture. It intends to launch PayTabs Switch this year.
Founded by Mounir Nakhla, Ahmed Mohsen and Mohamed Aboulnaga in 2017, the Egypt-based company offers rickshaw and motorcycle ride-sharing in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. It is financed by Battery Road Digital Holdings, Algebra Ventures, MNT Investing, UTT, Shaka Capital, MEVP and TEXILA. The company raised $14 million in 2020, and the total funding it received until now is $23.5 million. The Halan app has also launched new verticals, in Egypt, such as peer-to-peer delivery, an eCommerce platform, bill e-payment and fast-food delivery.
Established in 2017 by Mostafa Kandil and Ahmed Sabbah, Swvl is a bus transport app founded in Cairo. The company has built a network of over 600 lines in Alexandria and Cairo. Swvl has recently expanded its business in Pakistan and Kenya. The company secured Series B rounds of $42 million, bringing its total amount of funding to $92 million. Vostok, Beco Capital, MSA, Autotech, Blustone, Endeavor Catalyst, Oman Tech Fund, Arzan VC, Sawari Ventures, Michael Lahyani, DiGAME, Silicon Badia, Raed Ventures, Dash Ventures, Esther Dyson, Emilian Popa, Onsi Sawiris and Africa legal network, these are investors of the company. Swvl plans to expand its business globally.
An Egypt-based company, Adzily was founded by Ahmed Ashoor, Mostafa Hendawy, and Mohamed Ossman in 2019. It operates digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising screens in the Middle East. Until now, it has acquired $12.2 million in funding from Al-Tharawat and Mostafa Kamshish, and the company intends to use this to grow its business in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Adzily works with around 50 brand partners, including Careem and Vodafone Egypt. It operates over 300 screens. Presently, it is installing 3000 screens all through 68 Cario metro stations. Adzily media screens are also used in Swvl vehicles to entertain passengers.
Toters began its journey in 2017 as a delivery tech platform in Lebanon and Iraq. It allows customers to deliver anything from anywhere right to their doorstep. At present, the company has more than 100 employees and operates across Ten cities in Iraq and Lebanon with about 1000 partners. Its founders Tamim Khalfa and Nael Halwani have secured $8.4 million in multiple rounds led by B&Y, Phoenician Funds, MEVP and private investors.
Abu-Dhabi-based truck aggregator TruKKer operates a marketplace that connects mostly independent truckers with merchants that require shipping. It is aiming to road freight in four countries in the Middle East. Started in 2016, the company has more than 22,000 trucks in its networks and deals with more than 350 businesses across the region. In 2019, TruKKer’s co-founders Gaurav Biswas and Pradeep Mallavarapu secured $23 million in a Series A funding from their investors STV, IFC, World Bank, Riyad Taqnia Fund, Endeavor Catalyst, Shorooq Ventures and Iliad Partners citing its total amount of funding to $30 million.
Calling themselves the Middle East’s largest and most trusted online eyewear store, Eyewa founded in 2017, raised $2.5 million in funding in 2020, bringing its total funding to $11.1 million. The list of investors includes GS Shop, Wamda Capital, EQ2 Ventures, Nuwa Capital, 500 startups, Faith Capital and Angel investors. Co-founders Anass Boumediene and Mehdi Oudghiri previously worked together as strategy consultants at Bain & Company in Dubai.
With its business in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Africa, and Pakistan, Seez is a smart search engine for online car listings using AI and machine learning technologies. Since its launch, in 2016, the Seez app has recorded 1.6 million downloads, with almost 500,000 cars listed on its platform. The co-founders Andrew & Tarek Kabrit managed its Series A funding round of $6 million. The list of investors includes Wamda Capital, B&Y Venture Partners, Phoenician Funds, Crealize and Angel Investors.
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A Dubai-based PropTech startup, founders Jad Antoun and Khalid Ashmawy started Huspy, to make the mortgage process a smooth experience, in 2019. The company raised funding from VentureFriends, B&Y Ventures, Plug and Play, and large regional family offices. It did not disclose the size of the deal but said it is one of the largest seed rounds ever raised by a startup in the MENA.
In 2015, the password management solution was launched by Priscilla Elora Sharuk and Antoine Vincent Jebara in Lebanon. Myki serves more than one million customers across 172 countries with the help of 40 employees. The company provides identity management, monitoring and protection solutions for managed service providers and their customers. It has raised a $5.2 million fund and is currently amid another funding round, according to the co-founders. The list of investors includes BECO Capital, LEAP Ventures, and B&Y Venture Partners.