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With only 3 months separating us from closing out a record-breaking 2021, we observe a continuous upward trajectory in VC activity across MENA, Turkey, and Pakistan as recorded in our Q3 2021 EVM Venture Investment Reports.
The third quarter of this year, however, was particularly interesting as it pushed VC ecosystems beyond tipping points in geographies across MENA, continued the track record of Megadeals in Turkey, and Emerged with Pakistan’s real potential reflected in record-high funding rounds.
One of the most interesting shifts that played out in Q3 2021 is spotted in the deal dynamics of MENA’s top 3 VC ecosystems. Particularly, Q3 2021 marked the first time the deal deficit between KSA and the UAE has finally closed, after an uptick in deals closed by KSA-baseD startups bridging the gap from a 65 deal difference in 2018, 5 in H1 2021, and finally closing as many deals as the UAE by Q3 2021. A 20% YoY increase in deal volume by Q3 2021 drove Egypt’s climb to become the most active ecosystem in MENA by number of deals. Vibrant FinTech and other digitally-driven industries in Egypt, enabled by the likes of Capiter, MaxAB, and Elmenus, boosted Egypt’s capital deployment to surpass that of KSA- making Egypt the second-most funded geography in MENA by Q3 2021.
This week, we explore the major rounds in Q3 2021 driving these critical shifts in MENA’s top 3 ecosystems in this week’s Top Funding Rounds across Egypt, UAE, and KSA:
KSA: Unifonic- $125M Series B
Closing one of MENA’s 3 Megadeals in 2021 YTD, the Saudi-based cloud communications services provider Unifonic designs cloud-based communication tools to business customers and enables integration of text- and voice-based solutions via its API platform. By combining cloud-based software, telephony APIs, and real-time data intelligence, Unifonic eliminates the need for costly hardware infrastructure and makes business communication simple, fast, and cost-effective. Unifonic’s stellar $125M Series B was not only MENA’s third Megadeal in 2021 YTD, but most importantly it was Softbank’s debut investment in Saudi Arabia, joined in this round by KSA’s most anticipated VCs Sanabil Investments, Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC), STV, Riyad Taqnia Fund (RTF), and Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC).
Throughout its startup journey, the Saudi-based startup raised impactful rounds and even invested in a strategic Jordan-based AI-driven Arabic conversation technology Arabot. Unifonic has built strong investor relationships powering its impeccable growth including the likes of initial investors Elm, and Raed Ventures.
Egypt: Halan- $120M
Closing MENA’s second MegaDeal in 2021YTD, MNT-Halan is Egypt’s largest and fastest-growing lender to the unbanked. Founded in 2018, with roots dating back to 2010, the company is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. MNT-Halan was created to digitally bank the unbanked and substitute cash with electronic solutions. MNT-Halan has obtained the micro, consumer and nano finance licenses from the Financial Regulatory Authority enabling it to provide services to both businesses and consumers across Egypt. Capitalizing on MNT-Halan’s first mover advantage, proprietary, and highly scalable tech capabilities, and strong brand in Egypt, MNT-Halan has aggregated 1M monthly active users, currently serving more than 4 million customers in Egypt, of which 3.1 million are financial clients and 1.8M are borrowers.
MNT-Halan’s funding journey started with a $525K SEED round by Indian-based VC Battery Road Digital Holding. Before its stellar $120M funding round in Q3 2021, MNT-Halan raised an impressive $19.4M in Series A and Series B rounds. As the Egypt-based FinTech scales for growth, it has so far been backed by major and strategic investors including Apis Partners, DPI ( Development Partners International ), Lorax Capital Partners, Endeavor Catalyst Fund, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Egypt Ventures, and Algebra Ventures.
UAE: Tabby- $50M Series B
Early in August, the KSA and UAE-based Buy Now, Pay Later provider Tabby has raised $50M in a Series B round led by Global Founders Capital and STV with participation from Delivery Hero, and existing investors Arbor Ventures, Mubadala Investment Capital, Raed Ventures, Global Ventures, MSA Capital, VentureSouq, Outliers VC, JIMCO, and HOF also participated. Launched in 2019, The rising FinTech set forth to make shopping more rewarding by enabling users to get what they want and pay flexibly. Tabby integrates with retailers to allow their customers to shop at their online and physical stores with interest-free installments. The funding round values the company at $300M, closing one month after tabby raised $50M in debt financing.
In less than two years, Tabby has raised over $130M between VC and Venture Debt fundraising, starting with a $2M SEED round led by Arbor Ventures, Wamda Capital, and Global Founders Capital. From their SEED round to their $23M Series A and their latest $50M Series B, Tabby has been backed by a veteran portfolio of global investors pushing their resources to make Tabby the gateway FinTech to facilitate new-age digital payment across MENA.
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