The top five disclosed venture capital (VC) deals in the second quarter of 2020 amounted to $244.6 million, largely down to the $150 million raised by the Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG). It is a marked rise since the first quarter of 2020, when the top five investment deals amounted to $173 million. At first glance it may appear that the coronavirus has had a positive impact on the Middle East and North Africa's (Mena) startup sector, but the real effect on investor sentiment will become visible in the third and fourth quarter of this year.
As ever, UAE-based startups feature prominently, but the growth of Saudi Arabia's startup sector is evident, with three out of the top five investments based in the kingdom.The investments also align with the wider trends brought on by the pandemic - a rise in agritech, foodtech, fintech and edtech.
Dubai-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) that runs property portals in different emerging markets across the world including Bayut in Dubai, Zameen in Pakistan, and Mubawab in North Africa, raised a $150 million round led by OLX Group and its existing shareholders.
The company said that it will use the funds to develop a range of new services, creating a more seamless user experience, enhancing data transparency, and deepening market intelligence for both consumers and business users.
Saudi Arabia-based food delivery startup Jahez, raised a $36 million in its Series A funding round led by Impact46. This round marks the largest VC deal of its kind in Saudi Arabia so far this year.
The company said it plans to use the funds to expand into cloud-kitchens, grocery delivery, and non-food e-commerce services.
Saudi Arabia-based Islamic fintech startup Wahed, raised $25 million. The startups enables its customers to invest their money into a diversified portfolio consisting of stocks, commodities, real estate and sukuk, the latter being Halal-focused asset ownership certificates.The funding round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, also known as Wa’ed Ventures, a venture capital investment arm of global petroleum and natural gas company and existing investors BECO and CueBall Capital, as well as Dubai Cultiv8 and Rasamee.
UAE-based Pure Harvest Smart Farms, an agriculture tech (agritech) startup, raised $20.6 million in its Series A round, led by Kuwait-based Wafra International Investment Company which injected $10 million into the round with a multi-stage investment commitment of $100 million to support future expansion in the Middle East.
To date, this is the largest agritech investment in the Mena region.
Saudi Arabia-based educational technology (edtech) company Noon Academy, raised $13 million in a funding round led by Riyadh-based venture capital fund STV. Alturki Holding and NFX Ventures also took part in the funding round,
Noon Academy will use part of the capital in the pre-Series B fundraising to open a hub in London, where its product, design and data teams will be based.