While Uber’s acquisition of Careem dominated the news in the first quarter of this year, the Middle East and North Africa’s (Mena) startup sector witnessed several big venture capital (VC) deals too. UAE-based startups accounted for four out of the top five disclosed investment deals with about $183 million in investments, accounting for almost 96 per cent of the total funding. We have compiled a list of the biggest five venture capital disclosed investments in the first quarter of 2019 in Mena:
1 - EMPG
UAE-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), the parent company of Bayut.com, raised $100 million in a Series D round in February.
The round was led by a US-based family investment fund KCK Group and eight other investors including Exor Seeds which counts Ferrari and The Economist in its portfolio of companies.
The group said the investment will be used for acquisition and investment opportunities, technology development, and strengthening its online portals.
This round takes total investments raised by EMPG to $160 million, making it the highest funded real estate tech company in the region and the biggest investment in the first quarter of 2019.
2 - Yellow Door Energy
Yellow Door Energy, a UAE-based solar developer, raised $65 million in Series A financing, from a group of investors including International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mitsui & Co, Equinor Energy Ventures, Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), and UAE-based Adenium Energy Capital, the founding investor of Yellow Door Energy in 2015.
The investment is one of the Middle East's largest private placements in distributed solar energy and the second biggest VC investment in Q1 in 2019.
The company said that it will use the funding to scale its investments in solar energy and energy efficiency solutions in the Middle East and Africa.
3 - Jamalon
Jamalon, UAE-based online book retailer and publisher, closed the first leg of its Series B funding round last March, raising more than $10 million from existing and new shareholders, making the investment the third biggest VC deal in the region.
The round was led by Wamda Capital, followed by Aramex with new investments from Anova Investments, 500 Falcons and Endeavor Catalyst. It is the largest amount received by a Middle East e-commerce retailer to date.
Jamalon said that the fund will be used to increase the reach of Arabic books worldwide and expand its print-on-demand service.
4 - JustClean
JustClean, a Kuwaiti laundry startup raised $8 million in February from Kuwait-based Faith Capital which acquired JustClean in 2017.
Faith Capital said in a statement that the investment will be used for ongoing expansion of marketplace operations across GCC in addition to expanding into B2B logistics and software-as-a-service (Saas) initiative.
5 - yallacompare
UAE-based financial comparison website yallacompare raised $8 million in its latest round of funding in January led by existing investors STC Ventures and Wamda Capital, and new investor Argo Ventures, the investment arm of international insurance company Argo Group.
The startup said the investment will be used to expand to Egypt by the end of the first quarter of this year while also increasing market share in the UAE and Kuwait.