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Compared to its peer ecosystems in Emerging Venture Markets, Qatar has yet to make its mark on the VC map albeit showing great progress and promising potential. With a layout of this nascent landscape, however, we find that the Qatari market has been setting up the infrastructure for disruptive innovations that are set to elevate venture activity in the years to come. The Qatar Science and Technology Park has launched its 5-months accelerator program and venture fund for early & growth stage startups which establishes the groundwork for a healthy deal pipeline. Matched with a plethora of initiatives like Qatar University’s launch of its ‘QU Innovation & Entrepreneurship Strategy’ set to develop QU innovations for fastened economic development, the Qatari ecosystem has been introducing all the variables conducive for startup growth.
Surely, private and public efforts have been bearing fruit in the Qatari VC ecosystem as startups observe a 3-year consecutive growth in funding as of 2019. VC investment in Qatar has grown by more than 390% since 2019 to reach a new all-time high in 2021 south of QR 70M ( $19M). On a surface level, the volume of capital invested remains rather conservative compared to its peer geographies across EVMs, however, the Qatari ecosystem has observed remarkable breakthroughs in the nature of its VC dynamics in 2021. On one end, while 2020 was dedicated to Early-Stage funding rounds, Series A rounds accounted for 9% of total transactions in 2021. Over the past year, Qatar has also recorded its second-ever Exit to date with Qatari HealthTech Meddy being acquired by Nigerian Healium Health. These two factors are signifiers of the progress and maturity the Qatari startup ecosystem has been showing and open the doors for more startups to follow suit. On another, the ecosystem had one of the most healthy proportions of accelerated deals, consisting south of 50% of all transactions in 2021- which remains a remarkable share compared to only 16% across MENA, or 8% and 7% in UAE and Saudi Arabia respectively.
As we traverse this budding ecosystem with the release of our Qatar 2021 Venture Investment Report in partnership with the Qatar Development Bank (QDB) we trace 2021’s top 3 most-funded industries and their comparison with the rest of MENA:
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Food & Beverage
The two transactions closed in the F&B industry boosted the sector to become the most-funded in Qatar over 2021. The online food & grocery delivery startup Snoonu which secured both the highest funding round in the F&B industry and the highest VC funding in Qatar over 2021 drove sizable capital into the space. Along with the Tech startup manufacturing the latest inventions in home kitchen appliances Else Labs, the Qatari F&B sector raised 43% of all capital deployed in Qatar over the past year.
The F&B sector also reigned first in total capital deployed across MENA, driven by cloud kitchen network Kitopi’s $415 Mega Deal. With that in mind, cloud kitchen tech startups including GrubTech, iKcon, and Kitch secured the lion’s share of investment in the F&B industry to account for 79% of all funds raised in the sector over 2021.
In congruence with the global trend across Emerging Venture Markets, the FinTech industry in Qatar made great strides in 2021. With honed private, public, and VC investment, funding in the sector has grown by more than 3,400% since 2017 to reach a new all-time high of QR 4.1M ( $1.1 M) in 2021. The 8 transactions closed by Qatar-based FinTech startups were crowned by the highest funding round backing the alternative mobile payment platform SkipCash which raised QR 7M in 2021.
Whether exploring Open & Neo-banking, alternative payment solutions, micro-crediting solutions, or Cryptocurrency and digital investment, FinTech startups across Emerging Venture Markets gained investor traction over the past year recording more than 500% YoY growth in funding over 2021. This phenomenal growth was in part driven by an unprecedented influx of capital in the Sub-Saharan markets, where 6 FinTech Mega Deals drove funding growths as high as 850% YoY. Accounting for more than 60% of all capital deployed in Africa over 2021, FinTech startups closed the highest number of deals in each of the top 4 geographies.
Raising the fourth-highest funding round in Qatar and the only VC investment in the Home Services sector, the homecare on-demand service provider Ebutler was able to raise almost 10% of all capital investment in Qatar over 2021. With an intricate integration of data technologies and a seamless platform, Ebutler takes care of researching, vetting, and adding only quality reliable service providers on its Platform to be available and instantly accessible. The Qatari-based Tech startup provides 350+ services in a growing list of approved EButler partners, in which users can get connected to a trusted service provider in under 60 seconds.
Get the full oversight over the Pakistani VC ecosystem in 2021. Purchase our 2021 Qatar Venture Investment Report or Download our State of Startup Funding- 2022 Emerging Venture Markets Report for Free.
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