- May 17, 2023
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Fintech
gainst all odds, venture capital (VC) investments in Saudi Arabia reached a new all-time high last year, growing by a staggering 72% year-on-year (YoY) to reach US$987 million in 2022, data from the 2022 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Report show.
The report, produced by venture data platform Magnitt and sponsored by Saudi Venture Capital Investment Company (SVC), shows that 2022 was a blockbuster year for venture funding in the country.
Saudi Arabia achieved the highest annual growth rate of VC funding value among top three VC markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and maintained its position as the second-most funded market in MENA by accounting for 31% of the total capital deployed in the region.
That share represents a 10 percentage point increase compared with 2021’s 21%, and showcases Saudi Arabia’s rising prominence in MENA’s VC market landscape.
In the midst of the momentum, Obediah Ayton, a startup investor and the director of Dhabi Hold Co, an investment management company based in Abu Dhabi, has released his selection of the top VC firms and funds backing Saudi Arabia’s tech startup ecosystem.
These 20 firms are investing in and supporting the country’s most promising and fastest-growing startups, providing them with key resources, including capital, expertise and network, and helping put the country in the global startup map.
Saudi Technology Ventures
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) is one of the largest VC fund in the Middle East, with over US$800 million in capital.
STV backs and scales exciting and disruptive technology companies in the region. Its investment portfolio currently comprises 30 growing companies, among which fintech companies including Careem, a Dubai-baed super-app, Tabby, a buy now pay later (BNPL) startup from from the UAE, and Foodics, a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) and restaurant management system provider.
STV launched the US$150 million+ STV Total Growth platform in February to accelerate the growth of technology companies in the region through both equity and debt.
Founded in 2015 and based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, Raed Ventures is a VC that invests in seed and early-stage startups in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East North Africa (MENA).
Raed Ventures partners with founders building transformative companies in the region, focusing on sectors including fintech, e-commerce, logistics, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and entertainment.
Since its establishment in 2016, Raed Ventures has invested in over 40 companies, including fintech companies Hala, a fintech platform that allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to manage their inbound and outbound payments; Wafeq, an accounting platform from the UAE; Qlub, a contactless payment solution for restaurants; Lamaa, an invoice financing solution providere; and Simplifi, a Dubai-based card issuance company.
Hala Ventures is a Saudi VC firm that invests in early- and growth-stage startups in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regon, Egypt and Jordan, focusing on capital efficient businesses that leverage technology to scale fast globally.
37% of Hala Ventures’ portfolio companies are Saudi-based, with ten deals inked in the country so far. Fintech companies in its portfolio include Sarwa, a robo-advisory app; Democrance, an insurtech company; and CreditFins, a credit card management platform. To date, the VC firm claims it has seen three successful exits.
Hala Ventures started operating in 2014 under the umbrella of its affiliate company, Financial Horizon Group, as a corporate fund investing in various asset-classes including VC. Hala Ventures was later established as a stand-alone VC firm in 2018, with offices in both Khobar and Riyadh.
Saudi Venture Capital Investment Company
Saudi Venture Capital Investment Company (SVC) is a government investment company established in 2018 and a subsidiary of the SME Bank, one the development banks affiliated to the National Development Fund.
SVC aims to stimulate and sustain financing for startups and SMEs from pre-seed to pre-initial public offering (IPO) by investing in VC funds, accelerator and startup studio funds, private equity (PE) funds, venture debt funds, and private debt funds. SVC also co-invests with angel investors and institutional investors in Saudi-based startups with high-growth potential.
SVC claims it has backed 31 VC and private equity (PE) and five angel groups that support 525 startups and SMEs, totaling US$1.6 billion in assets under management (AUM).
Founded in 2012, Aramco Ventures (AV) is the corporate venturing arm of Aramco, an integrated energy company in Saudi Arabia.
Headquartered in Dhahran with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, Aramco Ventures strategic venturing programs’ invest globally in tech startup and high growth companies with strategic importance to its parent and which support the company’s operational decarbonization, new lower-carbon fuels businesses, and digital transformation initiatives.
To date, Aramco Ventures has invested in 36 startup and high-growth companies in the digital and industrial sectors, including TradeGo, an Asia-focused blockchain trading platform; Grabango, a POS tech startup; and Data Gumbo, a blockchain and smart contracts specialist.
Launched in 2022, Prosperity7 Ventures is a US$1 billion diversified VC fund of Aramco Ventures that invests globally in startups with a long-term view. The fund supports the development of next-generation technologies and business models, and backs exceptional entrepreneurs solving world’s toughest problems.
Investments include early-stage enterprise, blockchain, financial and industrial technologies, healthcare, and education solutions. Portfolio companies include Taulia, a fintech company that provides supply chain finance and dynamic discounting services; and Red Date Technology, a company which offers ready-made infrastructure for companies to deploy blockchain applications.
Prosperity7 Ventures is headquartered in Dhahran, with offices in Palo Alto, New York, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Dubai, VentureSouq (VSQ) is a VC fund manager that focuses on early-stage, high-growth tech startups. The firm manages thematic funds, with a current focus on fintech and climatetech.
VSQ is behind Fintech Fund I, the first sector-specific fund in the region focused on fintech across MENA and Pakistan. The US$50 million fund is backed by regional limited partners (LP) powerhouses including Jada Fund of Funds, SVC and ADQ’s DisruptAD. Its focus is on early-stage fintech and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies across multiple sub-sectors including payments infrastructure, alternative credit, digital banking, proptech, insurtech and personal financial management.
Companies in its portfolio include Aspire, a multi-currency business account for startups and SMEs; Bloom, a crypto-based remittance service for Sudan and other Sub-Saharan African markets; and Onfido, a digital identity specialist.
Founded in 2020, Cotu Ventures is a seed stage venture firm based in Dubai. It partners with founders at the beginning of their journeys, taking companies from pre-seed through to Series A and beyond, accelerating their path to product-market fit.
Fintech companies in Cotu Ventures’ portfolio include MoneyHash, a flexible payment orchestration and revenue operations platform; Cassbana, a company that builds financial identities for underserved people and businesses in Egypt; and Zenda, a payments and finance app for parents and educational institutions.
Founded in 2021 and based in Riyadh, Sadu Capital is a VC firm that invests in private tech startups through equity ownership. The firm currently focuses on pre-seed and seed startups that are based in Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA region.
Sadu Capital’s portfolio include DataLexing, an advanced all-in-one data-driven productivity platform; Rewaa and Oto.
Saudi Angel Investors
Launched in October 2020, Saudi Angel Investors (SAI) is a micro-VC founded by 60 like-minded investors. The firm looks for entrepreneurs that have taken their ideas from proof of concept to customer traction to scale with drive, energy, determination and ambition.
SAI invests between US$50,000 to US$150,000 in each of the companies it selects, focusing on seed and Series A rounds of early-stage technology companies with high growth potential.
SAI’s angels range from seasoned investors, tech entrepreneurs, venture fund partners and senior executives, providing the startups it backs with an extensive network of contacts and rich expertise.
Outliers Venture Capital
Founded in 2020, Outliers Venture Capital is a VC investment firm that invests in early-stage companies in the US and MENA, focusing on cybersecurity, privacy and deeptech, among other sectors.
Startups in Outliers Venture Capital’s portfolio from MENA include Lean Technologies, an open banking startup; and Tabby.
Founded in 2019, Nama Ventures is a pre-seed VC fund that aims to fuel innovation in MENA, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Nama Ventures prides itself on being an investment fund committed to nurturing ideas that guide founders to succeed and create exceptional companies.
Nama Ventures portfolio companies include Tamara, a BNPL solution provider; Wafeer, a personal finance management app; and Dupplo, a business-to-business payment platform for African SMEs.
Khwarizmi Ventures is a Saudi-based VC fund investing in early-stage startups with proven traction in the MENA region. Khwarizmi Ventures aims to help leading companies of the future in accelerating their reach to their full potential, pursuing scalable opportunities and disruptive ideas.
Ever since its launch in 2018, Khwarizmi Ventures has seed-funded notable startups, assisting various founders and scaling multiple regional companies. Current portfolio companies include Sifi, a spend management for SMEs; RemotePass, an onboarding and payroll software provider; and Lean Technologies.
Founded in 2020, Oryx Fund is a MENA-focused VC investment firm based in Abu Dhabi. The firm backs game-changing early-stage tech companies from seed to Series A led by outstanding entrepreneurs. It focuses on sectors including fintech, healthtech, enterprise tech, logistics tech and edtech.
The VC fund is managed by UK-based Hambro Perks, an international venture and asset management firm, and is the first London-based VC fund with a 100% focus on the Saudi market and MENA region.
Oryx Fund portfolio companies include Hala, an insurtech startup; Now Money, a mobile banking platform; Penny, a digital procurement platform; and Sarwa.
Founded in 2017, Shorooq Partners is an early-stage VC firm investing in innovative startups across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region. Shorooq Partners’ mission is to propel the tech startup innovation landscape in the region. The firm has a portfolio of 60+ startups across fintech, platform and software, totaling a portfolio gross equity value of US$3.5 billion.
Shorooq Partners, an award-winning VC, has backed market-leading disruptors, including NymCard, a banking-as-a-service (BaaS) provider of embedded finance, Lendo, an instant invoice finance platform, Tamara, Sarwa and Lean Technologies.
The firm is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and has offices in Dubai, Riyadh, Manama, Cairo, and Islamabad.
Founded in 2020, Nuwa Capital is a Dubai, Riyadh and Cairo-based investment platform that brings together leading entrepreneurs, domain expertise, and an unparalleled track record in VC in emerging markets.
The fund delivers a founder-led, value creation approach to venture investment. Its model relies on key partnerships with corporate investors and a mentorship network scheme designed to drive strategic and operational support to its portfolio companies.
Fintech companies supported by Nuwa Capital include Edfa Pay, a company that provides a softPOS solution for SMEs; Raqamyah, a peer-to-peer lending platform for SMEs; Baraka, a commission free investment platform; and MoneyHash.
Derayah Venture Capital Fund
Established in 2019, Derayah Venture Capital Fund is a Saudi-based VC fund that invests in high growth tech startups in MENA.
The fund backs founders who are looking to build and expand their companies in the region. Its primary focus is geared towards startups in their early or growth stages based in Saudi Arabia, as well as organizations based in the MENA region that are seeking to expand their footprint to the Saudi Arabia.
Derayah Venture Capital Fund focuses on sectors including SaaS, fintech, e-commerce, marketplace platforms, AI and the Internet-of-Things (IoT). The firm has backed companies including Sanad Capital, an all-in-one spend management system, Dawul, a social trading platform, and Foodics.
KAUST Innovation Ventures
KAUST Innovation Ventures is a VC fund introduced in 2022 by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) that invests in early-stage deeptech startups.
The fund backs startups with large market potential, superior products and technology, strong teams and a clear business plan, allocating up to US$250,000 in VC in seed-stage businesses and up to US$1 million in follow-on investments.
KAUST Innovation Ventures looks for technologies aligned to KAUST’s research focus areas, namely energy, food, water, health, environmentally friendly solutions and digital solutions.
Jameel Investment Management Company
Founded in 2011, Jameel Investment Management Company (JIMCO) is the global investment arm of the Jameel family, consolidating under one name an established Jameel family tradition of investing in innovative ideas and businesses promising positive change.
Today, JIMCO is an active global investor in innovative, early-stage and breakthrough ventures, business models and emergent technologies, aiming to positively shape the future of core industries driving the global economy. These investments are diverse and embrace medical and healthcare industries, fintech, insurtech, electric vehicles and future mobility solutions, and the future of energy, amongst others.
JIMCO comprises a number of independent legal entities and operates three primary fund brands: the JIMCO Technology Fund, which focuses on venture building, both through select, targeted funds and direct investments; the JIMCO Life Sciences Fund, which focuses on both direct and fund investments in life sciences, biotech and health care; and the JIMCO Strategic Asset Fund, a forward-thinking fund focused on sustainability initiatives and energy transformation.
Founded in 2016, Faith Capital is a VC firm based in Kuwait that invests in talented founders building long-term value. Faith Capital primarily focuses on e-commerce businesses that are based in the region and abroad. Its approach is to support and create further value in those companies through both its funding, and most importantly, specialized local and international operational and management expertise.
Companies in its portfolio include Kaso, an online platform that connects food businesses with suppliers providing payment, credit facilities and logistics services, The List, a retail marketplace that also handles the entire payment and delivery process including insurance, customs and clearance, as well as Foodics.