Voices from KSA: Reflecting on MAGNiTT’s H1 Saudi Arabia Venture Investment Report

Despite a rocky first half of the year, our recently launched Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Snapshot (in collaboration with SVC), found that Saudi Arabia’s startup funding increased by 102% from H1 2019 to H1 2020, with H1 2020 already surpassing full-year 2019 by the amount of funding. The report provides an in-depth analysis of startups and venture capital investment in one of MENA's fastest-growing regional ecosystems over the first half of a very unpredictable year.

Download our FREE H1 2020 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Snapshot.

As a result of this, Saudi Arabia's key startup ecosystem stakeholders provided their insights into the developments of Saudi Arabia's entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the role of KSA's women in driving transformation, the need for stronger infrastructure, digital acceleration, the importance of collaboration, and more.

Hear from them below. 

Faris AlRashed - Founder and Chairman, Derayah Venture Fund

"In the past few years, the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Saudi Arabia has grown at an accelerated pace. We saw top technical talents emerge and leave high-paying jobs to start or join startups in their earliest stages. We are seeing huge interest from investors to tap into the VC asset class, especially after COVID-19. We also saw the tremendous support provided by different government agencies, led by Monsha’at, towards entrepreneurs and startups. The Saudi stock market has now become a viable exit option to tech startups. All key players in the ecosystem started to be active and exert all efforts needed to create a strong ecosystem that is based on collaboration."

Abdulaziz Alomran - Partner, Impact46

"In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of digital transformation accelerated at an unprecedented pace. Investments made by SVC-backed funds played a pivotal role in smoothening this transformational journey. Looking ahead we, as fund managers, will have to expand our investment frontiers to include cutting edge technologies. The team at Impact46 hopes that our investments play a role in introducing technological advancements to our beloved Kingdom."

Mohammed Almeshekah - Founding Partner, Outliers Venture Capital

"It is great to see the Saudi entrepreneurial ecosystem evolving at such a fast pace. With all the uncertainty in the world, there is no doubt that technology will continue to be a major force of innovation to many parts of the economy. Saudi Arabia and MENA are entering a new phase of technology ventures. Founders are expecting their investors to truly back them, with a clear added value, beyond simple capital injection. We are starting the age of value-differentiation by founders and investors."

Anwaar Alshammari - Legal Director, SVC

"The venture capital market has witnessed rapid developments locally and regionally on the regulatory and legal fronts, particularly in terms of the evolving standards applied in transactional documents related to investments. The Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) is proud to be participating in driving the development of market standards in the common interests of the continued development of the Kingdom’s economy, entrepreneurs, investors, and investment fund managers. We look forward at SVC to further developments this year on all venture capital fronts in the Kingdom."

Ali Abussaud - Founding Managing Partner, Hala Ventures

"The significant improvement of the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and the accelerated growth in funding avenues, validate the potential of the Saudi market as well as the interest of MENA VC funds in the Saudi market. All of which are an outcome of the Kingdom’s initiative programs, such as the Saudi Venture Capital Company “SVC”, “Jada” the Fund of Funds of Public Investment Fund “PIF”, and other programs, which combinedly had a positive impact on both infrastructure development, and the liquidity position of funds given the expanded array of funding means."

Deemah AlYahya - Founder & Chief, WomenSpark

"The women of Saudi Arabia have a major part to play in the country’s economic and social transformation. We at WomenSpark aim to be an active contributor to the growth of the digital economy by building a conducive ecosystem of women talents redefining the future and lead a new generation of digital economy game changers. With female graduates outnumbering their male counterparts in science, Saudi Arabia needs to tap into this growing pool of talent and capitalize on its potential in creating advanced digital ventures.

"Moreover, the spending power of women and the amount of wealth they control is on the rise, proving that women investors play a critical and growing factor for success in the wealth management industry. When it comes to investing, women want their money to be invested in a way that matches their values, and purpose, beyond just financial returns."

Latifa BaNasr - CEO, OQAL Angel Investors Network

"As the world abruptly shifts with COVID-19, the need for startups and a stronger infrastructure arises. During the 1st half of 2020, we witnessed the strength of the Saudi ICT infrastructure and its positive impact on the ecosystem, catalyzing a noticeable increment in the volume of funding of startups in critical sectors such as logistics and EduTech. From angels’ perspective, we have seen a movement of approximately 65% of re-investment to support portfolio companies, a minority is looking at potential M&A deals. Moreover, with the immense government support, we are expecting KSA to unravel an elevated standard of exemplary founders and investors post the pandemic."

Mazin Aldawood - CEO, Osool & Bakheet Investment Company

"Osool and Bakheet Investment Company are proud to be part of the financial and investment sector in Saudi Arabia, which plays an essential role in achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. We look forward to being part of the movement that develops and grows the venture capital ecosystem in the Kingdom by participating in the creation of funds specialized in venture capital.

"We believe that it’s important to have this type of investment programs, as it plays a vital role in establishing a base for understanding the VC market that can be further developed later. Based on the current data, we expect there will continue to be a strong investment environment in the near future, capable of competing and attracting innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will become a center for innovation and technology."

Despite a rocky first half of the year, Saudi Arabia’s startup funding increased by 102% from H1 2019 to H1 2020, with H1 2020 already surpassing full-year 2019 by the amount of funding. Discover more data by downloading our FREE H1 2020 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Snapshot.

هذا التقرير متوفّر أيضاً باللغة العربية على الرابط التالي: تقرير الاستثمار الجريء في المملكة العربية السعودية في النصف الأول من عام ٢٠٢٠