Souq founder says "Amazing times" await MENA startups
By Lubna Hamdan / Arabian Business - Image Credit: Arabian Business
According to Souq founder and CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar, the ecosystem's gradual growth has made it easier to set up businesses in the region, especially in the last two years.
Speaking at the Arabian Business Start Up Academy in March, the chief executive said that the business environment has massively changed since 2005, when he launched his Dubai-based e-commerce website, which was acquired by global online retailer Amazon last year.
“When I started Souq, there was not a single [investor]… It was really hard to get seed funding. [But] the ecosystem has changed. The number of start-ups [has increased], because most of them run on mobile, so the ability to deliver a market has gotten easier, creating ideas has gotten easier, and there is now a seed funding environment,” he said.
Souq alone has invested in eight start-ups, including grocery app InstaShop and logistics firm Wing, which helped the website double its sales during White Friday last year.
“Our journey used to be that we have to go abroad to raise funding. Most of the capital we raised for Souq was from all over the world. I think there was a whole year that I spent all on a plane, because I was trying to get our funding round.
“Now, we have local support. And the good thing about locals is that they know the environment, so you don’t have to explain the Middle East. You can just explain your business. When we went abroad, we had to explain, ‘here is the Middle East, here is the opportunity, here is what can happen in the region, and here is the business that we run.’ And some people would say, ‘We love your business, but we’re not sure about the Middle East. Is it safe? How is the corruption in your areas? How is the adaptation of technology?," he said.