MENA startup funding soars 66% in H1 2019

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JEDDAH — Total funding in MENA-based startups jumped 66% in H1 2019 with 238 investments amounting to $471million as compared to $283 million invested in H1 2018, MAGNiTT’s H1 2019 MENA Venture Investment Report revealed Monday. The number of deals remained healthy at a record high, up 28% compared to H1 2018, showing continued appetite in start-ups from the region at all stages of investment.

The UAE remains the most active startup ecosystem with 26% of all deals and 66% of total funding. Saudi Arabia was one of the fastest growing ecosystems, up 1% from H1 2018 recording 26 investments in H1 2019.

The UAE has maintained its dominance with 26% of all transactions made in to UAE-headquartered start-ups in H1 2019, while it also accounted for 66% of total funding.

Meanwhile, the landscape continues to evolve. Tunisia was the fastest growing ecosystem in H1 2019 – receiving the 5th highest number of deals at 8% of all deals, up 4% from H1 2018. While Saudi Arabia recorded 2% increase in number of deals, up to 11% of all transactions across the MENA region.

FinTech retained its top spot in H1 2019 and accounted for 17% of all deals. Notable investments include the $8 million in Yallacompare, $6 million in Souqalmal and $4 million in Beehive.

E-commerce still remains prevalent accounting for 12% of all deals, followed Delivery & Transport, which was the third most popular industry in terms total deals in H1 2019, accounting for 8%.

Moreover, H1 2019 saw the influx trend of foreign investors continue. The entrance of China’s MSA Capital and Germany’s food conglomerate Henkel, among others, highlighted continued international interest in MENA start-ups. In fact, 30% of all entities that invested in MENA-based start-ups were international investors.

EMPG leads the start-up ecosystem with a $100 million fundraise, followed by Yellow Door Energy and Swvl.

EMPG receives the highest amount of funding by a single start-up, raising $100 million in February 2019. Yellow Door Energy ($65 million) and Swvl ($42 million) complete the top 3. In total, the top 10 deals in H1 2019 account for 62% of the total investment amount in H1 2019, down 9% from H1 2019. In terms of exits, H1 2019 has seen 15 start-up exits take place across MENA, an increase of 5 compared to H1 2018.

The largest of these was Careem'’ landmark exit to Uber. Magnus Olsson, Co Founder, Chief Experience Officer noted "Our $3.1B deal with Uber was a hugely significant moment, not just for Careem, but also for the Greater Middle East. It was the largest tech deal this part of the world has ever seen and puts our region’s emerging technology ecosystem on the map of both regional and foreign investors." On the impact the deal will have across the ecosystem, Olsson notes "Careem views its colleagues as owners of the business and so we introduced an equity scheme that will now see them financially benefit from the transaction. We hope that the deal will act as a catalyst for the next generation of tech startups in our region."

Speaking about the results, Noor Sweid, General Partner of Global Ventures, noted that "the growth in the start-up and tech ecosystem in the region is phenomenal, and yet, we are just at the beginning of a trajectory that will see technology-driven companies grow significantly and incredibly quickly over the coming years. These numbers illustrate the momentum and successes that the underlying companies and founders are achieving, and the growth in the investment ecosystem and opportunities alongside them."

Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, emphasized that “with the vision of our leaders, and a strong strategy in place, the UAE has cemented its position as an ideal destination for startups, founders, creative thinkers, and innovators. We have leveraged that vision, through creating dynamic co-working spaces, agile legislation that supports innovation and attractive visa policies for entrepreneurs and business professionals, and we continue our efforts toward positioning Dubai as a global testbed for cutting-edge technologies.”

MAGNiTT is MENA’s most powerful startup platform, tracking the region’s start-up ecosystem, which provides an in-depth analysis of start-up funding and venture capital across the Middle East and North Africa. The report highlights positive news for the continually growing ecosystem with strong growth through a record number of transactions. — SG


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