SME focus: The big Middle East startup investors this August

G42 Group invests in Jollychic, Vy Capital funds UrbanClap and Falcon Network completed six investments

Image used for illustrative purpose. Modern chic business people working in an incredible futuristic & original office space

Image used for illustrative purpose. Modern chic business people working in an incredible futuristic & original office space

Getty Images

A number of funding deals and start-up investments made it to the headlines in the region this month, and Zawya has rounded up the top investments (in no particular order) we think you should know about.

Vy Capital Funds UrbanClap

UrbanClap, an online Indian home services marketplace, raised $75 million in a Series E round led by investment firm Tiger Global. Founded in 2014, UrbanClap operates in 10 cities in India and as well as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

According to a statement from UrbanClap, the round was joined by London-based Steadview Capital and Dubai-based Vy Capital, both of which had previously invested in its $50 million Series D late last year. Vy Capital is a global investment firm that exclusively focuses on the internet and software.

The Series E round also included a secondary share sale by some of UrbanClap’s early institutional investors, the statement said.

Nana Raises $6.6 million

Saudi Arabia’s online grocery platform Nana Direct raised $6.6 million in its series A in an investment co-led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and the social impact accelerator Impact46. Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) Company and Wamda Capital were the other partners involved in the deal.

“Having built several enterprise products in the past, I wanted to tackle a core consumer challenge and was [eager] to build technologies to resolve it. Groceries form a significant fraction of a Saudi family’s monthly expenditure, and I believed the experience they get in return could be enhanced manifold,” said Sami Alhelwah, founder and CEO of Nana Direct.

The new capital will be utilised to ramp up Nana’s growth plans, which include hiring new people, onboarding new stores and improving vendor relations.

G42 Invests in Jollychic

UAE-based Tech Company G42 Group invested $65 million in the Series C funding round for Jollychic, a Chinese cross-border e-ommerce platform focused on the Middle East.

Jollychic plans to use these funds to expand its segmentation, improve its logistics system, and develop third-party payment options and e-wallets. The funding will also help the company further strengthen its localization efforts.

G42, which has funded many national strategic tech projects in the region, said in a statement that it had considered Jollychic’s potential and position in the Middle East and its vision of building an ecommerce-based Internet ecosystem for the investment.

MEVP Invests in Bykea

Dubai-based Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) has invested $2 million in Bykea, a Pakistani on-demand transport, logistics, and payments startup as part of its $5.7 million Series A, the largest Series A raised by a Pakistani startup.

Bykea offers several services, the most popular being on-demand motorbike ride-hailing and parcel delivery. It was founded in 2017 by big names from Pakistan’s ecommerce and logistics industries, including Muneeb Maayr, who previously co-founded Rocket Internet’s Daraz (acquired last year by Alibaba).

Lamar Holding Invests in TechAdvance

TechAdvance, a Lagos-based payment infrastructure firm, has secured funding from Bahrain’s energy investment company, Lamar Holding.       

TechAdvance develops payments applications, and the $1-million funding will be used to support its expansion into emerging markets, according to a statement by the company.

 Established in 2009 by its CEO, Edmund Olotu, it runs a network of subsidiaries, each of which focuses on different verticals in emerging markets, including utility bill payments, digital financial services and transportation software.

“The payments space in emerging markets is buzzing with opportunities but faces a number of major barriers. These funds will allow us to shift our focus to these opportunities, especially the launch of our digital bank, without compromising our existing business lines,” Olotu said in the statement.

Falcon Network Invests $450,000 in Six Startups

Dubai-based Falcon Network, a group of emerging-markets-focused angel investors, has completed six investments worth $450,000 in high-growth and impact-focused startup enterprises.

“These exciting businesses will not only benefit from the financial capital but also strategic expertise, which our angels will provide in order to accelerate their growth potential,” Dr Sayd Farook, co-founder of the Falcon Network, said in a statement.

The startups include

Aion Sigma is a Finland-based fintech platform with a sizeable presence in Africa that provides financial inclusion and empowerment of individuals.

Caravan is a value-added aggregator of privately operated buses in the UAE that seeks to help employees find the best private bus for their work commute.

Saaya Health is a tech company providing emotional/mental health solutions to organisations and corporations.

Teacherly is an UK-based collaborative planning and peer-to-peer ed-tech platform with a growing presence in the Middle East.

Virtual i, based in Dubai’s DIFC is an insurtech platform that provides fast, affordable and reliable risk engineering services to insurers and insured and brings visibility to insurance transactions.

WorkAround provides a scalable data-tagging and verification platform for AI/machine learning applications delivered by skilled displaced people.

(Reporting by, editing by Daniel Luiz)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy. Read our full disclaimer policy here

© ZAWYA 2019

More From Technology