Gulf startups Almentor, COFE, Qlub snag VC funding; Tamara gets debt from Goldman

Gulf startups Almentor, COFE, Qlub snag VC funding; Tamara gets debt from Goldman

By Dilasha Seth

  • 17 Mar 2023
Gulf startups Almentor, COFE, Qlub snag VC funding; Tamara gets debt from Goldman

Startup funding activity in the Middle East remained robust this week, shrugging off the dismal sentiment in other regions after the collapse of California-based Silicon Valley Bank. 

Startups in the region struck funding deals ranging from pre-seed to pre-Series C rounds and debt deals in sectors including fintech, fashion, and food e-commerce.  

According to projections by RedSeer Strategy Consultants in a report released this week, nearly 250 unicorns (startups with a valuation of over $1 billion) and 100 soonicorns (startups with valuation between $500 million and $1 million) are likely to emerge by 2030 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, compared with six and 45, respectively, currently.  


This will also help build a strong pipeline for IPOs as companies grow beyond the funding requirements typically offered by venture capitalists and private equity funds.  

Startups that raised funds in the region this week include edtech company Almentor, fintech firm Sav, online coffee marketplace COFE, BNPL startup Tamara, foodtech player Burger Index, and resale fashion app Bazaara. 



The UAE-based edtech company Almentor raised $10 million in pre-Series C funding led by e&capital to scale up investment in the business-to-consumer (B2C) segment and fuel its expansion into Saudi Arabia.  

Its existing investors include Sawari Ventures, Egypt Ventures, Partech, Endure Capital, and Sango Capital, who also participated in the round.  

Founded in 2016 by Ihab Fikri and Ibrahim Kamel, Almentor provides over 1000 online courses and educational content in Arabic with topics ranging from health, technology, entrepreneurship, sports, and digital media. Fikri is also the CEO of the company and Kamel is the COO. In June 2021, the company raised $6.5 million in a Series B round led by Partech.  



Kuwait-based online coffee marketplace COFE raised $15 million led by Wa’ed Ventures, the $500-million Saudi-focused VC fund wholly owned by Aramco.  

With presence in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt, the funding is aimed to fuel the company's e-commerce offerings. The startup was founded by Ali Al-Ebrahim in November 2018, and last year it partnered with the Saudi Coffee Company to widen its presence in the Saudi Arabian market.  


Other key investors in the company include eWTP Arabia Capital, and the Electronic World Trading Platform (eWTP) Capital. Al Imtiaz Investment Group and KISP Ventures (KFH Capital), and Rasameel Investment Company, a Kuwait-based wealth management fund also participated in the round.  


The UAE-based fintech Qlub raised $25 million in a new funding round this week. This brings its total fundraising to $42 million since it was founded in 2021. 


Investment firm Al Dhabi Capital and family offices in the UAE took part in the round, the company said. 

Its other investors include VC firms STV, Raed Ventures and Shorooq Partners. 

The startup plans to use the fresh capital to fuel growth and develop new offerings. 

Tamara-Goldman Sachs  

Saudi fintech startup Tamara secured a receivables warehouse facility, a short-term funding arrangement, of up to $150 million from Goldman Sachs to facilitate expansion of its buy-now-pay-later products in the Gulf region and grow its new verticals.  

Tamara, launched in 2020, is one of the largest BNPL providers in the region and has a customer base of over six million across Saudi Arabia, and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, including the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain.  

Founded by Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Turki Bin Zarah and Abdulmohsen Albabtain, Tamara had raised $100 million in Series B in August last year from investors including Sanabil Investments, Coatue, Shurooq Partners, Endeavor Catalyst, and existing investor Its key competitors are UAE-based Tabby and Postpay. 

Burger Index 

Spanish food-tech startup Burger Index raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Flat6Labs, an early-stage venture capital firm, to expand into the six member GCC region including the UAE. It will also use the funding to expand data coverage to include digital groceries and supermarkets.  

F Capital and Instashop’s founding partner, Cosmin Manea, also participated in the round. 

Founded in 2022 in Spain, Burger Index offers data analytics for the food and beverage industry, allowing restaurants, food brands, cloud kitchens, and distributors to keep track of real-time market updates.  


Bazaara, a resale fashion app in the UAE, raised US$230,000 in its pre-seed round from Flat6Labs UAE and angel investors. With the funding it aims to scale up in the UAE and fully launch in Saudi Arabia.  

The app allows users to buy and sell pre-owned fashion items and accessories directly from other users, creating a sustainable and community-driven platform. Founded n 2021 by Alyssa Mariano, who is the co-founder and CEO, the app has over 25,000 listings with a combined value of over $1.5 million.  


The UAE-based fintech startup Sav raised $750,000 in a pre-seed round from angel investors this week. Founded by Purvi Munot in late 2021, Sav facilitates financial savings for consumers by letting users keep track of their savings and rewards them for achieving a saving goal. Sav is part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund's (MBRIF) Innovation Accelerator programme. Munot is the CEO of Sav.

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