VC Investment in Qatar: Notes from the Ecosystem

With VC investment reaching an all-time high in 2021, along with an impressive accelerator program participation and the second-ever exit to be recorded by a Qatari Startup, we invite key ecosystem players to share their contributions and necessities of VC success in Qatar. Excerpts from our newly launched 2021 Qatar Venture Investment Report with QDB


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The Qatari Ecosystem has taken large strides since the first signs of VC activity back in 2016. Crowing a 3-year consecutive growth in VC funding across industries, the year 2021 recorded a new all-time high record of investment which was remarkable both in volume in nature of the deals closed. In 2021, the Qatari VC ecosystem observed a 92% YoY growth to raise QR 69M despite a 23% YoY drop in number of transactions closed. 

Unique in its nature, the Qatari VC ecosystem has experienced both, signs of maturity and brewing nascent potential over 2021. On one end, while Early-Stage deals were a focal point of investment in 2020, 9% of total transactions in 2021 were in the Series A stage marking a new level and intricacy of venture capital in the region. Last year also marked Qatar’s second-ever exit historically, which paves the way for more investors backing the ecosystem and more startups scaling their operations for exit success. The Qatari HealthTech startup and doctor booking platform Meddy was acquired by the Nigerian HealthTech network Helium Health to consolidate the African markets with the GCC, a market move highly anticipated at a time of regional players. 

 

What was also highly noteworthy is the proactive Accelerator program activity in Qatar, where 46% of all transactions in 2021 were accelerated. This number is especially impressive compared to the 16% proportion in MENA. As we release our 2021 Qatar Venture Investment Report brought to you by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), we realize the core potential and essential support by the drivers of the ecosystem. As Mr. Abdulrahman bin Hesham AlSuwaidi, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Development Bank highlighted this flagship report “We are pleased, at Qatar Development Bank (QDB) to release the second edition of the ‘Qatar Venture Investment Report 2021’ in partnership with MAGNiTT. Building on the success of the inaugural report, this report complements our endeavors which are held in collaboration with local and international key stakeholders to support the national entrepreneurship ecosystem by providing the most specialized reports that showcase the SMEs’ success journey. In this report, we will preview venture investment, whose significance stems from its capability to quickly transfuse the SMEs’ burgeoning sector with the funds it requires to accelerate growth and achieve a sustainable level of development in the private sector.”


 



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Mr. Abdulrahman bin Hesham AlSuwaidi, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Development Bank (Excerpt from Report Forward): 

SMEs are considered a vibrant, crucial part of any economy; for many countries worldwide, they are the backbone of business and are the beating heart of innovation and economic development. According to the World Bank, SMEs constitute 90% of companies operating globally, and provide more than 50% of employment. Thus, supporting the growth and development of this vital sector and helping those operating within it to thrive requires meticulous, continual effort. This support should be provided via a multitude of financial and advisory aid and consultancy, alongside venture capital. An infusion of funds can unlock accelerated growth and, ultimately, help businesses to develop in ways that are sustainable, and which set them up for long-term success. 

 

Her Excellency Reem Mohammed Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of the Digital Society Development, The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Tech startups are considered key drivers for economic growth and job creation. Through innovative and scalable startups, Qatar can diversify its economy while delivering impactful solutions for society; thus contributing to realizing the National Vision 2030 by being the vehicle for delivering socio-economic impact. At TASMU, we have realized the potential of our local startups, and as such, we strive to empower them through our key programs and initiatives. These programs range from access to innovation, market, and investment opportunities to help them scale their businesses and grow internationally. This is evident through Digital Incubation Centre (DIC), built in line with MCIT’s vision, to support startups and contribute towards the growth of Qatar’s digital economy and ecosystem, such that it has led to the success of 118 startups since 2011, 14 of which have expanded internationally.
 

Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani, Chief Executive Officer, Investment Promotion Agency Qatar 

Qatar recognizes the crucial role startups play in economic growth and job creation and supporting the country’s economic diversification agenda. Ranked 1st in the Arab world by the Global Entrepreneurship Index and 5th globally by the Global Competitiveness Report for venture capital availability, the country welcomes and supports entrepreneurs and start-ups to convert their ideas into successful businesses in Qatar. From facilities in ownership, a competitive tax system, and world-class infrastructure, to a multicultural talent pool, global reach and an exceptional lifestyle, Qatar’s forward-thinking government has spared no effort to position the nation as the ultimate investment destination in the region.

The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar is your gateway to opportunities in Qatar. As a single and complete source for investment solutions, we connect you to the right people, resources, and platforms throughout the investment process.
 

Yosouf Al Salehi, Executive Director, Qatar Science & Technology Park  

QSTP is a free zone and technology park that hosts leading global tech companies, mentors, and supports a network of startups and rising tech ventures, and has a strong value chain of acceleration, incubation, and funding programs. At QSTP, we play a key role in developing a robust and diverse technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar.

We are creating a culture of innovation and are committed to boosting the private sector in Qatar and the region. Over the past decade, we have invested in supporting local and regional startups, aligned with our goal of nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.


Discover the impact of VC investment in Qatar with a 6-year evolution recap. Download the 2021 Qatar Venture Investment Report


 

Hussain Abdulla, Co-Chief Executive Officer, QINVEST   

As one of Qatar's leading private investment banks and one of the region’s most prominent Islamic financial institutions, QINVEST has been watching closely the rising significance of the Venture Capital space across the region and the world. Over the past couple of years, VCs have played a vital role in unlocking opportunities for SMEs and other companies to explore new, innovative, and promising market opportunities that can generate tremendous benefits for the larger economy. As we enter the post-pandemic era, I’m confident that Qatar’s supportive ecosystem, which includes a range of incubators, accelerators, and motivated investors, will be in a position to further influence the establishment of a resilient VC sector that is digitally advanced, and sustainable in the long-term.

Henk Hoogendoorn, Chief Financial Sector Officer, Qatar Financial Centre

To support investing in Fintech in Qatar or beyond, QFC can facilitate Angel Investor platforms, Investment Clubs, Venture Capital, Investment Manager, and Professional Investor Funds. There are no show stoppers in Qatar to invest in Tech. However, the pace of the regulatory development and the Banks' appetite to work with Fintech needs more attention. I strongly advocate having an Open Banking Framework and creating Fintech opportunities for SMEs and workers as this will contribute to financial inclusion. Digital Innovation in the financial sector offers also a chance for Digital Assets and tokenization which will help democratize investments and create more transparency. Overall I am optimistic for Qatar as I see more interest and a growth mindset to embrace technology in the Financial sector.

Mohammed Al Emadi, Head of Investment Development, Qatar Development Bank

SMEs have become a vital factor in any economic development, as change catalysts and job opportunities creators. In fact, they account for more than 90% of businesses in Qatar. At Qatar Development Bank, we aim to enrich and diversify the country’s competitive, non-hydrocarbon economy by offering SMEs access to market, capability, and finance. This includes venture capital to boost innovation and fulfill entrepreneurial ambitions and growth potential. All these efforts are in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 to ensure the nation’s prosperity and progress. These endeavors require dynamic venture capital to bring innovative solutions, accelerate economic growth and enhance SMEs’ ecosystem - which was evident in the past few years.
 

Get the full oversight over 6 year of VC investment in Qatar. Download our Free 2021 Qatar Venture Investment Report brought to you by QDB 


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