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GCC-based venture capital firm VentureSouq (VSQ) announced the launch of its MENA FinTech Fund I, the region’s latest sector-specific fund focused on FinTech across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region and Pakistan. VentureSouq MENA FinTech I, closing at $50M, is backed by regional powerhouses including Jada Fund of Funds program and Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), Bahrain’s Al Waha Fund of Funds, UAE’s DisruptAD, ADQ’s venture platform, and Mubadala Investment Company, as well as multinational conglomerates such as OFC, the Middle East investment arm of The Olayan Group.
Established in 2016, VentureSouq has operations in the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and has invested in over 200 companies worldwide. The VentureSouq fund invests in early-stage FinTech and SaaS companies and focuses on key subsectors including payments infrastructure, alternative credit, digital banking, PropTech, InsurTech, and personal financial management, working closely with innovative regional entrepreneurs that are disrupting financial services.
An additional $3.7BN was raised between 2020 and Q3 2021, to hit a record-high of $5.2B in funding across MENA, Turkey, and Pakistan (MENAPT). By Q3 2021 Each of the three EVM geographies saw more funding in 2021 than the total amount raised in FY 2020, where funding rounds in MENA 2021 YTD recorded more than a 100% increase in capital deployed since FY’2020 and rounds in Pakistan this year raised 26% more funds than the past three years combined. This year also marked a record-high number of active investors in MENA of which a record number of foreign investors also was present. It is major players in the region like VentureSouq, 500 Global, Flat6labs, Global Ventures, and Impact 46 that have driven some of the highest numbers of transactions in 2021.
The Fund has been actively deploying capital into startups across MENA and Pakistan, including regional ‘buy now pay later’ Tabby, Saudi-based B2B marketplace Sary, and PropTech platform Huspy. VentureSouq General Partner Suneel Gokhale commented on the launch “Prior to the MENA FinTech fund, we were early investors alongside some of the biggest global VCs in a number of FinTech companies, including high-profile ones such as Jeeves, Khatabook, Belvo, FamPay, Vouch, Point, Atomic, and Fondeadora. In 2020 we started to reflect on what FinTech adoption in the MENA region was going to look like and we dove right in.”
UAE-based investments include Baraka, Flexxpay, FinTech infrastructure company NymCard, and digital bank Verity and in Pakistan, digital ledger platform Creditbook, e-commerce financing platform PostEx and salary advance startup Abhi Finance. The fund also invested into Egypt-based transportation platform Trella, gig economy financial platform Dayra, and North Africa-based super-app Yassir, along with a number of other promising companies, which will be announced in the coming months. VentureSouq General Partner Maan Eshgi concluded “As the first vertical venture fund in MENA, it was critical to assemble the right LP base. We needed partners that would both understand where the region currently sits on the evolutionary curve, and also that could help our portfolio companies navigate the challenging regulatory and funding terrain in MENA. For us to get the outcomes we need, our portfolio companies need to access not just a single market, but the entire MENA region. We believe we have the right stakeholders to help make access to that broader market a reality.”
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