MENA Digest: Agritech startups iyris, YoLa Fresh bag big cheques

MENA Digest: Agritech startups iyris, YoLa Fresh bag big cheques

By Dilasha Seth

  • 31 May 2024
MENA Digest: Agritech startups iyris, YoLa Fresh bag big cheques
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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region saw a slew of growth-stage startup funding deals this week, led by Saudi Arabian agri-climate tech company iyris, formerly Red Sea Farms.  

Other notable funding deals included foodtech plug-and-play startup GrubTech and Moroccan agritech company YolaFresh. Besides, the UAE-based proptech startup Holo secured follow-on funding from the Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF). 

Meanwhile, the UAE-based alternative investment manager Shorooq Partners marked the first close of its $100 million second private credit fund, in collaboration with Korea’s IMM Investment Global, which joined the fund as a minority partner. It will invest an average ticket size of $10 million. Shorooq’s previous private credit fund invested in startups including agritech company Pure Harvest and fintech platform Tamara. 



Saudi startup iyris secured $16 million in Series A funding, led by San Francisco-based climate and sustainability fund Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF), to scale the business and develop new products.  

The startup also got the backing of current and new institutional investors, including Global Ventures, Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF), Kanoo Ventures, Globivest, and Bonaventure Capital.  


Founded in 2018 by Ryan Lefers, Derya Baran, and Mark Tester, iyris uses tech to sustainably grow local produce while reducing carbon emissions and food and water scarcity. It advances commercial farming for low to mid-tech farmers in hot climates globally.  

The company seeks to utilize the funding to facilitate increased sales coverage and support the delivery of its strong international sales pipeline for SecondSky greenhouse covers and nets. It also plans to fund the continued development of its innovative heat-blocking products and resilient plant genetics.  

YoLa Fresh 


Morocco-based agritech startup YoLa Fresh raised $7 million in a pre-Series A round of funding led by Al Mada Ventures to fuel geographical expansion. The round also saw participation from Algebra Ventures, E3 Capital, Janngo Capital, and FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development Bank.  

Founded in 2023 by Youssef Mamou and Larbi Alaoui Belrhiti, YoLa Fresh's platform connects farmers directly with retailers and food service companies. It allows companies to track produce from farm to retail, ensuring transparency and minimizing waste, leading to higher income for farmers and retailers, reduced food spoilage, and fresher, more affordable options for consumers.  

The company aims to utilize the funding to expand beyond Morocco to tackle food security challenges and foster economic growth across Africa.  



GrubTech, a foodtech startup that offers all-in-one operating system to restaurants and cloud kitchens, secured $15 million as part of its Series B round and extension of the Series A round to accelerate geographical expansion.  

The round was led by the venture capital arm of Jahez Group. The round also saw participation from existing investors Addition and Oryx Fund, the MENA-dedicated fund of Hambro Perks.  


Founded in 2019 by Mohamed Al Fayed, Omar Rifai, and Mohamed Hamedi, GrubTech is a SaaS integration and unified commerce platform that provides restaurants and cloud kitchens with a software solution to streamline their operations.  

It plans to utilize the additional capital to scale geographically and set up offices in Saudi Arabia, Europe and the UK. It had raised $13 million in a Series A round in 2021. 


UAE-based proptech startup Holo raised an undisclosed pre-Series A funding round, led by existing investor DFDF to expand across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.   

Besides the follow-on investment by DFDF, the round also saw participation from Oryx Fund and Aditum Investment Management Limited.  

Launched in 2020 by Michael Hunter and Arran Summerhill, Holo offers digital mortgage services, allowing buyers and homeowners to explore refinancing options.  

Holo intends to use the new capital to strengthen its market position in the UAE, grow its team, and expand its reach across the GCC, with an immediate focus on Saudi Arabia. In February 2023, Holo had closed a seven-figure seed round. 


Saudi Arabian edtech startup Aanaab has raised an an undisclosed sum from US-based edtech venture capital firm Rethink Education. 

Founded in 2019 by Mounira Jamjoom, Aanaab is a digital training platform for teachers. It offers a range of distance learning courses, licenses, and qualifications, predominantly in Arabic, to advance their professional development. The startup has over 200,000 teachers and about 250 schools on its platform, spanning 10 countries in the MENA region. 

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