Startups in Saudi Arabia have seen a 102% year-on-year increase in funding in the first half of the year to $95m, amid Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a MAGNiTT report sponsored by Saudi Venture Capital Company, the number of deals in the first half increased by 29% to 45.
With this, Philip Bahoshy, Founder and CEO of MAGNiTT, said that Saudi Arabia continues to be one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in the MENA region, highlighting the importance of technology to the ever-developing economy in the Kingdom.
In the first half, he said that several high-profile funding rounds included Jahez ($36.5M), Nana ($18M) and Noon Academy ($13M).
Jahez and Nana are active in food and grocery e-commerce, respectively, while Noon Academy focuses on the EdTech space.
E-commerce obtained the top spot as the most active industry by both total funding (67%) and the number of deals (22%).
Other industries, such as sports and fitness, saw a drop in deals and revenues, falling from third place by the number of deals in the first half of last year.
“The women of Saudi Arabia have a major part to play in the country’s economic and social transformation. With female graduates outnumbering their male counterparts in science, the Kingdom needs to tap into this growing pool of talent and capatilise on this potential in creating advanced digital ventures,” Deemah Al Yahya, Founder and Chief of WomenSpark.
Moreover, she said 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.
Based on the current trend, Mazin Al Dawood, CEO of Osool and Bakheet Investment Company, expects to see a strong investment environment in near future, capable of competing and attracting innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world.
“Many government initiatives have focused to alleviate the burden of the COVID-19 outbreak, including deferred payments, waived fees and bills, paid vacation, and salary guarantees for 70% of a company’s Saudi employees,” Bahoshy said.
Similar to 2019, he said that Saudi Arabia ranks third by number of deals and total funding. With this, Saudi Arabia accounted for 15% of total funding and 18% of the deals in the Middle East and Africa in the first half of the year.
OQAL, 500 Startups, KAUST, Impact 46 and the Misk500 MENA Accelerator accounted for the highest number of deals in the first half of this year.