Saudi startups dare pandemic slowdown; Observe a notable rise in funding

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabian Startups in the tech and e-commerce sector have surprised the market space by reporting a surge in investments from various investors across the globe despite the limitations created by the pandemic. 

According to the data compiled by MAGNiTT and INSEAD, the kingdom’s startup ecosystem witnessed considerably higher capital inflows growths when compared to the rest of the region.

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The report suggests that investments in Saudi start-ups witnessed a 102 percent increase to reach raised a record high of $95 million in the first half of this year when compared to the same period last year.

“The 17 countries in the region saw a 35 percent increase in total funding from [the first half of] 2019 to [the first half of] 2020, while Saudi Arabia’s start-up funding grew by 102 percent,” the report stated.

While the whole Middle East and Africa (MENA) region also witnessed an 8 percent decline in the number of deals from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020, Saudi Arabia stood apart with posting a 29 percent increase.

Tech, e-commerce

Start-ups in the technology and e-commerce sectors received the most investments in the funding rounds. These are the firms that offer services and goods with the end view of making daily life easier during a pandemic.

“E-commerce has been among the top invested industries in Saudi Arabia and the entire MENA region historically. A specific segment within e-commerce that has seen the majority of this funding is grocery e-commerce,” the report said.

“While COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the everyday lives of Saudi’s citizens, certain start-ups have seen a significant increase in traction and have helped ease the everyday life of Saudi consumers,” the report added.

Top performers

Jahez, a food delivery platform based in Riyadh, is the biggest performer in terms of raising capital this year so far after raising a total of $36.5 million fresh capital through several high-profile funding rounds this year.

Another Riyadh-based platform, Nana which focuses on the grocery business came second by raising $18 million in a Series B funding round led by Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) and Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP)in March.

Edtech Noon Academy came third with at $13 million, followed by Sary, a B2B eCommerce marketplace that raised $6.6 million in seed funding last April.