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UAE-based English teaching digital platform Englease.com has raised $3.4M in its latest funding round backed by major players in Silicon Valley. The oversubscribed SEED round was co-led by global leading EdTech investors, LearnCapital (US) and LearnStart (US), and recorded participations from key regional investors COTU (UAE), BY Venture Partners (UAE), Hambro Perks Oryx Fund (UAE/UK), Wamda (UAE), 500 Global (US/Saudi), Dubai Angel Investors (UAE) and A.L.M.A. (UAE).
Founded in 2019, by Omar Chihane, Englease.com offers live English classes online round the clock, led by bilingual tutors delivering their own UK accredited curriculum. Students simply complete a proficiency assessment test before being granted unlimited access to live classes with Englease.com’s tutors.
The EdTech space in MENA is a growing one, with an exceptional investor focus surely observed as Pandemic restrictions urge new virtual learning solutions. Following a consecutive 4-year growth in funding for the sector, funding in MENA-based EdTech startups has grown by 525% since 2018. Observing a 14% YoY growth in capital deployed this year to date, albeit a 31% decrease in number of transactions closed, EdTech startups across geographies raised stellar rounds in 2021 YTD. One of the top EdTech players this year has been Jordan-based Abwaab, raising $20M by the likes of BECO Capital following its acquisition of Pakistan-based counterpart Edmatrix. Other exceptional rounds raised this year included (UAE) almentor.net’s $6.5M Series B, (Jordan) Edunation’s $3M Pre-Series A, and (KSA) Jeel Platform’s $1.2M SEED round.
This latest funding round comes as market validation for the UAE-based startup pioneering a cost-efficient subscription model with easy access to users. Students pay a one-time fee for the ability to access unlimited live groups classes or select their 1-on-1 tutoring option for up to a full year thereby drastically bringing the cost of synchronous education down. Englease.com’s annual cost rivals the monthly fee of offline ESL (English as a Second Language) schools. Founder Omar Chihane highlighted “English proficiency is the number one driver of employability in the MENA region, yet the region has the world’s lowest English proficiency rate and has had the world’s highest youth unemployment rate, according to the world bank, 25 years running. The only way to tackle this very real problem was to build a highly impactful solution that is both scalable and affordable”
The global ESL market hit a record 1.72 billion learners in 2021 and is projected to grow at CAGR of 15.8% until 2027. English is also the dominant language of the internet with over 60.4% of the top 10 million websites being in English, followed by Russian, a distant second at 8.5%. Amir Farha, managing partner at COTU added “Speaking English can transform people’s lives, yet English education in the MENA region hasn’t evolved with the digital age. This represents both a massively impactful offering and a significant market opportunity. It’s not often you find both so prevalent in a business. Englease.com deciding to tackle this massive gap by offering synchronous (live) English education is no easy feat and their traction thus far is only a testament to Omar and his team’s bold vision, focus, and relentlessness”
Englease.com attributes its early success to its product quality and stickiness as it further develops its reach through university and corporate partnerships. The UAE-based EdTech plans on channeling its newly acquired funds in further developing its online English synchronous (live) education solution and fuel expansion. As the startup set forth on a mission to help 1 million people become proficient in English through seamless Tech and affordable offering, Rob Hutter, founder and managing partner at LearnCapital shared his high hopes for the team “We, at LearnCapital, believe that the single biggest contributing factor to a country’s GDP growth is leveraging its human capital, and Englease.com’s ability to deliver synchronous English education at scale and their focus on employability across the MENA region set them apart as a category leader in the region.”
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