With fintech and sustainability driving the funding activity in the Middle East, the week saw key deals being struck in the startup space ranging from seed to Series A rounds. Startups that raised funds include fintech player Credable, metaverse builder LandVault, proptech startup Estater and AI-based healthcare startup Aumet.
However, the overall activity was subdued relative to the robust previous week that saw at least eight funding deals from pre-seed to pre-series C rounds.
In order to improve deal activity and funding outlook in the region, the Saudi Venture Capital Co, a subsidiary of SME Bank established in 2018, recently launched a $80 million venture capital fund. The ‘Investment in Fintech VC' Fund was launched in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority and the Financial Sector Development Program to support growth of fintech industry in the country.
Meanwhile, India-based edtech unicorn PhysicsWallah (PW) earlier this week acquired UAE-based edtech startup Knowledge Planet, marking its foray into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The move will help PhysicsWallah to offer 1:1 STEM courses and SAT preparation for students preparing for higher education in the West.
According to a PwC report released last week, the Middle East is a ”rare global sweet spot” for M&A as per the current market conditions in early 2023 and that M&A activity in the region has shown a remarkable exception to the general pattern of the slowdown in global M&A deal activity.
UAE-based fintech player Credable raised $2.5 million in seed round funding led by Nigeria-based Ventures Platform and Egypt-based VC firm, Acasia Ventures formerly Cairo Angels to fuel company's growth across new markets including Nigeria and Pakistan. The funding is also aimed to expand the team size. The B2B2C fintech was founded by Nadeem Juma, Jad Abbas, and Michael Tarimo in 2021 and provides a digital banking platform to businesses across emerging markets to offer banking products and services to their customers. Currently, it has presence in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The fintech firm has more than 1.2 million customers, including both consumers and SMEs and helps businesses by easing their burden of having to build digital infrastructure, meet regulatory requirements, and have direct contact with a bank. More than 200,000 users have either borrowed or saved via the platform, over $5 million in loans were disbursed, and $2.5 million of savings deposits were received from customers.
Meanwhile, LandVault, a metaverse construction company closed a strategic funding round for an undisclosed amount with several web3 firms, including a leading metaverse platform The Sandbox (owned by Animoca Brands), Gemini Frontier Fund and Kingsway Capital.
The capital will be used to expand its commercial operations across its hubs in Dubai, Asia, Europe, and the US and will further invest in tech, especially artificial intelligence-powered tools to enhance the development and monetisation of metaverse content. This comes after LandVault raised a total of $37m, the last round being a $25m Series B in November 2021.
Bahrain-based proptech company Estater raised over $5million in Series A funding round, led by undisclosed investors based out of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to fuel expansion.
Founded in 2009 by Mahmoud AlJarrah, Roobesh Modi and Sanjay Goyal, the company uses artificial intelligence and data science in real estate to estimate the value of properties. Estater will use the fresh capital to accelerate product development, expand the employee base, and enhance its tech infrastructure.
Riyadh-based healthcare startup Aumet raised $7million in pre-Series A funding to develop its AI capabilities and expand its reach to more pharmacies. It saw participation from AAIC, a Tokyo-based healthcare-focused VC fund, Swiss PE firm AIJ Holdings, Hamad Ali Sagri family office, Tijah Holdings, and Cigalah Group.
Shorooq Partners, which has backed the startup in pre-seed and seed stage of funding rounds also invested in the Series A round. Founded in 2016 by Ashraf Samhouri, Jamal Abu Samra, Mohammad Issa, Tariq Khader, Yahya Aqel, the AI-led B2B healthcare startup helps improve efficiency in supply chain by using predictive analytics to forecast the procurement requirement of products for pharmacies. Aumet has raised a total of $7.9mn in funding over nine rounds. It serves over 10,000 pharmacies across Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordon.