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2018 MENA Venture Investment Report
January 2019

2018 proves to be another record year for the MENA startup ecosystem with 366 deals, more investments than ever before in MENA-based startups, and total funding up 31% from 2017.


To download the free 2018 Venture Investment Summary click here: Report Summary


The 2018 MENA Venture Investment Report does a full deep dive into the MENA startup ecosystem across the region. The table of contents for the 100+ page report can be found here:


● Executive Summary

● Funding Overview

● Country Breakdown: Historical review by industry, funding stage, deals & investors: UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan & KSA

● Industry Breakdown: Historical review by geography, stage, deals & investors: FinTech, E-commerce & Transport

● Funding Institutions: List of Funders, breakdown by stage, list of all new accelerators, Angel Groups and VC funds

● Exits: Historical review and details on all exits in 2018

● Top Deals by Quarter: Commentary and breakdown of top deals by quarter across the MENA region

● Methodology & Definitions

Key insights from this year's report include the following. 

Executive Summary
Funding in the MENA region topped $800M: $893M was invested in 2018, an increase of 31% compared to the $679M invested in 2017. 2018 saw 366 deals take place, an increase of 3% from 2017.
UAE remained the top destination for startup investment: the country accounted for 30% of all deals and 70% of total funding amount. Egypt saw the largest increase, with a 7% increase in its share of total deals compared to 2017, accounting for 22% of all deals in 2018.
FinTech overtook E-commerce to be the number 1 industry in 2018 by number of deals: FinTech accounted for 12% of all deals that took place in 2018, E-commerce came second with 11% of all deals. Delivery & Transport was the most popular industry in terms of disclosed funding in 2018, accounting for 28%, mainly due to a $200M funding round in ride-hailing app Careem.
Late-stage saw an increase as a percentage of total deals: early stage, which includes Angel, Pre-Seed, Seed, and Pre-Series A rounds, increased by 2% as a share of total deals from 2017 to 2018. Late stage, which includes Series C and later stages, saw an increase of 1%
2018 saw 155+ entities invest in MENA-based startups: 47% of these entities had not previously invested in MENA-based startups
30% of all entities that invested in MENA-based startups are international: this is the same percentage of international investors that invested in MENA-based startups in 2017.
The top 10 deals accounted for 65% of total investment amount in 2018: this is up 3% from 2017. This is mainly attributable to the $100M< mega-rounds raised by Careem and Property Finder.

To download the free 2018 Venture Investment Summary click here: Report Summary


Purchase 2018 MENA Venture Investment Report

Highlights from the full 2018 MENA Venture Investment Report include:


Funding Summary:

2018 surpassed 2017 in terms of total disclosed funding in MENA

  • ●   A total of $893M was invested in 2018, an increase of 31% compared to the $679M invested in 2017
  • ●   2018 saw 366 deals take place, an increase of 10 (3%) compared to 2017.


Country Breakdown:


UAE remained dominant in 2018, accounting for 30% of the total number of deals in MENA.

  • ●   Egypt saw the largest increase, going up 7% from 2017 to 2018
  • ●   Lebanon, on the other hand, saw a decrease of 4% from 2017 to 2018


Industry Breakdown:


FinTech saw the highest number of deals in MENA in 2018, with a total of 43 deals

  • ●   E-commerce came second with 41 deals, followed by Delivery & Transport with 30 deals
  • ●   Education saw an increase of 11 deals from 2017 to 2018, making it the industry with the largest increase



Top Funding Institutions:


500 Startups was the most active venture capital investor in 2018, and Flat6Labs the most active accelerator

  • ●   Those 2 institutions invested in more than 40 MENA-based startups in 2018
  • ●   Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) was the second most active venture capital firm by number of investments in 2018


Exits in 2018:


2018 saw 17 startup exits in the MENA region, marking a decrease of 3 (15%) compared to 2017

  • ●   41% of the exits in 2018 were cross-border, showing an international playing field
  • ●   24% of the exits in 2018 saw an international (based outside of MENA) acquirer, indicating international appetite for MENA-based startups



Top Funding Rounds:


The top 10 deals increased by $129M from 2017 ($386M) to 2018 ($515M), which marks a 33% increase

  • ●   With Careem and Property Finder, there were two $100M+ funding rounds in 2018
  • ●   70% of the top deals were in startups that are based out of the UAE, with Egypt (Swvl), Kuwait (Boutiqaat) and Saudi Arabia (Unifonic) accounting for 10% each

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Data Insights