2019 was a record-breaking year for the MENA startup venture space!


Deals, exits and investors were at an all-time high. We also saw the first unicorn exit ever, with Careem being acquired by Uber for $3.1B at the beginning of the year. Our 2019 MENA Venture Investment Summary analyzes trends and insights from 564 investments in venture-backed startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2019. Below our key takeaways from the summary:


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2019 saw a record 564 startup investments take place across the MENA, amounting to $704M in total funding. That’s an increase of 31% in number of deals and 12% in total funding compared to 2018, if you exclude previous funding in the now exited Careem & Souq.

With those 564 deals and $704M in funding, 2019 marks a strong end to a great decade. To put it into perspective: 2009 saw $15M of funding in 5 venture deals, which means that total funding has had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47%, whilst deals increased by a 60% CAGR over the last 10 years.

Discover more when you purchase our full 100+ page data-driven report, including country and industry trends!

Over the last few years, local governments have increasingly focused on entrepreneurship. We have seen the launch of funds, matching programs, accelerators, as well as startup & VC licenses. Examples include the $1.07B PIF Fund of Funds, the $250M funds set up by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and the $100M Al Waha Fund of Funds in Bahrain, among others.

With these initiatives, we are seeing shifts in the regional startup ecosystem. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) still accounts for the highest amount of total funding at 60% in 2019. Egypt, on the other hand, ranked highest by number of deals for the first time ever at 25%, as private and government entities double down on the sector. Another quickly growing ecosystem is Saudi Arabia, which now ranks third by both deals and total funding.

Exits were another record in 2019. In total, there were 27 startup exits in MENA, with a notable success story: Careem, which was acquired by international rival Uber for $3.1B. Through this acquisition, the MENA region saw its first-ever unicorn exit. With these developments, the MENA region continues to mature and grow. It’s an exciting one to watch for sure, and you can catch more highlights in our free report.

We're excited about 2020. For a comprehensive look at the data download the summary below.

هل تُفضّل الحصول على التقرير باللغة العربية؟ اضغط هنا.

The full 100+ page report was created with proprietary data from MAGNiTT’s industry-leading platform.

This includes data-driven charts and graphics on the following: 

- All 17 countries in MENA, by funding amount & deals, including a deep-dive into 5 top funded countries

- All 28 industries in MENA, by funding amount & deals, including a deep-dive into 3 top funded industries

- Ranking of the most active investors by funding stage

- All new funds and investors established in MENA in 2019

- A full list of all exits in 2019


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