Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 17 February 2019 - STV, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region’s largest venture capital fund, led approximately $250m worth of funding rounds in 2018, accounting for almost 30% of the estimated $893m deployed in MENA venture capital last year. In its first year of operation, STV deployed close to $100m of its $500m fund, making it one of the largest investors in the region’s fast-growing start-up and technology ecosystem over the past 12 months.
In its first year, STV assessed over 500 opportunities, building a robust portfolio of regional technology market leaders covering digital media, ride-hailing, e-healthcare and cloud communications. STV, alongside other global investors, led a $200m Series F funding round in the region’s leading ride-hailing company Careem, the largest MENA-focused funding round of 2018. STV’s CEO, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni sits on the board of Careem.
During 2018, STV led Saudi Arabia’s largest venture deal of the year with its investment in Unifonic, a market-leading cloud-communications platform that enables companies to connect with their customers through SMS, Voice, and other channels. Additionally, STV invested in Telfaz11, a high quality digital video content producer for Saudi Arabia and the Arab world; Vezeeta, an Egypt-based internet app that facilitates the scheduling of healthcare appointments; and Proof, a US-based company that helps online businesses optimize user conversions using social proof signals.
Commenting on STV’s first year of progress, CEO of STV, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, said: “In a very short space of time we have dramatically increased the quantum of venture capital available to regional start-ups, creating a completely new playing field for MENA VC. Highly attractive fundamentals coupled with unique investment opportunities in the region have seen the number of funds investing in technology grow almost 4-fold over the last six years and we are excited to be a major part of this growth. We are now looking to deploy our capital at an increased pace as we look to find, grow and scale the region’s most ambitious tech champions.”
The MENA region represents one of the most compelling and untapped venture capital opportunities, globally. According to McKinsey, the MENA region has only 10% of the funding of the United States, relative to GDP. The region saw $893m invested in 366 start-ups in 2018, while venture capital funding for the region reportedly increased 31% from 2017, according to market researcher MAGNITT.