Startup Wrap: MENA startups close to raising $1bn in funding in a single month after February boom
CAIRO: Startups in the Middle East and North Africa region raised $760 million across 48 deals in February 2023, twice the figure in the same period last year.
The funding value last month increased by 638 percent month-on-month and the number of deals increased twofold to 48, according to Wamda’s monthly reports.
Egypt startups led February’s rise, closing $422 million in funding with the vast majority of that thanks to fintech MNT-Halan raising $400 million in a single round.
Saudi startups came in second with $316 million in funding across 13 deals followed by Emirati startups at a distant third raising $8 million across seven agreements.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia saw a massive leap in funding amounts last month compared to the month before, when just $3.4 million and $3.3 million were raised, respectively.
The UAE saw a drop from $92.6 million raised in the first month of the year, with four acquisitions in February – namely Saudi-based e-commerce Noon’s purchase of UAE-based counterpart Namshi; Indian makeO’s acquisition of dental startup Smileneo; Saudi fintech Hala’s buying of fintech Paymennt, and e&’s acquisition of UAE’s ServiceMarket.
Across the region, fintech was the leading sector in terms of funding, driven by MNT-Halan’s round, followed by e-commerce with $159.7 million, while food-tech came in third with $135.7 million.
“Last month saw a sharp decline in international funding allocated to startups in MENA. Of 48 deals, only nine attracted foreign investment while regional investors participated in 41 deals,” the report stated.
Male-founded startups received 99 percent of the funding raised last month across 45 deals while only one round was raised by a female-led startup. Two deals were raised by startups co-founded by men and women.
The MENA region witnessed a significant increase in startup activity last month and is anticipated to continue to grow throughout March with the launch of large entrepreneurship events like Saudi Arabia’s Biban 2023.
Kuwaiti edtech Baims raises $4m in series A funding round
Kuwait-based educational technology startup Baims raised $4 million in a series A funding round led by AK Holding with participation from Al-Wazzan Educational Group, and Rasameel Investment House.
Founded in 2017 by Bader Al-Rasheed and Yousef Al-Husaini, Baims’ platform offers a wide range of educational courses to university and high school students with presence in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, and Turkey.
“Baims is short for Big Aims. It was chosen because it is characteristic of young people, especially university students, who have their whole life and possibilities ahead of them and have big aims for the future,” Al-Husaini said.
The company aims to utilize its funding to accelerate the development of its platform as well as invest in marketing and product offering.
“We are thrilled to have the support of our investors, who share our vision of providing accessible and affordable education to students across MENA,” Al-Husaini added.
The e-learning market in the Middle East is estimated to reach $570 million by 2025, according to PRNewswire.
Crypto and NFT startup nealthy raises $1.3m in pre-seed round
A startup for investing in non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency, nealthy, raised $1.3 million in a pre-seed funding round.
Ludwig Schrödl, Zied Said, and Tim Pascual founded nealthy in 2022 to satisfy the growing demand of Web3 technology in the region.
“As NFT trading markets evolve, potential investors are showing an increased interest in diversification,” Schroedl said.
The company will utilize its funding to grow its team as well as increase its sales and develop its product.
Paymob partners with Shahid to expand digital payments
One of Egypt’s leading digital solutions providers Paymob has partnered with Arabic streaming platform Shahid by MBC Group to expand the company’s subscription payment methods.
The partnership will enable Shahid customers in Egypt to pay for their subscriptions via electronic wallets processed by Paymob’s solutions, becoming the first in the Egyptian industry to provide such an option.
“This latest agreement is a testament to our commitment to providing innovative and accessible payment solutions to our customers, and with Paymob’s expertise, we are confident that this partnership will enable us to provide more convenient and secure subscription options for Shahid,” Natasha Matos-Hemingway, chief commercial and marketing officer at Shahid, said.
With an estimated 25 million e-wallet users in Egypt, the partnership with Paymob is set to expand Shahid’s potential customer base significantly, according to the press release.
US Venture Deals
WHP Global, a New York-based brand management firm, raised $375 million in funding from funds managed by the private equity group of Ares Management Corporation.
Humane, a San Francisco-based A.I. hardware and services platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Kindred Ventures led the round and was joined by Tiger Global, Valia Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Lachy Groom, and OpenAI founder Sam Altman.
ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a Chicago-based clean and renewable fuels provider for heavy-duty engines, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Mercuria Energy Group led the round and was joined by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, New investors, Rio Tinto, and WIND Ventures.
Wave, a San Francisco-based mental health platform, raised $6 million in seed funding. Sante Ventures led the round and was joined by Hannah Grey VC, Joyance Capital, Gaingels, and Telocity Ventures.