MENA startups close January with $86.5 million in funding

CAIRO: Investments in Middle East and North Africa startups amounted to $86.5 million in January, as 2024 kicked off at a slow pace.

The figure represented a decline from December 2023’s $1.15 billion in funding, as well as a 34 percent decrease from the $103 million raised in January 2023.

The UAE led the region in startup funding in the first month of 2024, securing $47 million across 10 deals. This was significantly influenced by a $35 million pre-seed round for the travel tech startup Tumodo, as reported by Wamda’s Monthly MENA Investments report.

“January is usually a slower month in terms of funding announcements, but it tends to be a good indicator of the momentum that awaits for the rest of the year,” the report stated.

In Egypt, startups showed resilience despite the sluggish pace, raising $23 million through seven deals. Saudi Arabia followed with $10.7 million across 10 transactions.

Sector-wise, Tumodo’s substantial funding round propelled travel tech to the forefront, with fintech following as it witnessed five startups raising $12 million, indicating a slowdown for the region’s previously most active sector.

Health tech and mobility startups also saw significant activity, with two in the former sector securing $11 million, and three startups in the latter garnering over $5 million.

The majority of January’s deals targeted pre-seed and seed stage startups, accounting for almost $53 million of the total funding. 

Burgeoning B2B companies succeeded in raising over $57 million across 14 deals, while B2C startups managed to attract $28 million across 18 agreements.

Funding for female-founded startups remained low, with only one managing to secure investment. In contrast, 29 male-founded startups and three male and female co-founded companies received funding, highlighting an ongoing disparity in investment distribution.

Saudi proptech startup raises $2.9m in seed round

Saudi Arabia-based proptech startup Rize successfully secured $2.9 million in a seed funding round to further boost its expansion plans.

The investment was fueled by several investors, including SEEDRA Ventures, HALA Ventures, Joa Capital, RZM Investments, Bonat Investments, and Nama Ventures, alongside contributions from a group of angel investors.

In a move to solidify its position in the real estate market further, Rize disclosed that it has also secured additional funds through debt financing.

Launched in 2021 by co-founders Ibrahim Balilah and Mohammed Al-Fraihi, Rize has introduced an innovative rent now, pay later model to the market. This model allows tenants to pay their rent in manageable monthly installments.

This approach not only eases financial pressures on tenants but also aligns with broader trends toward enhancing housing affordability and accessibility.

With the newly acquired investment, Rize aims to accelerate its expansion efforts across the Kingdom.

The startup seeks to leverage the funding to broaden its reach and impact within the Saudi real estate sector, offering more tenants the opportunity to benefit from its flexible payment solutions.

This financing round marks a significant milestone for Rize, underscoring the growing investor interest in proptech solutions addressing key industry challenges.

“The confidence shown by investors in this round reflects their belief in our vision to improve the rental industry in the Kingdom,” Balilah, Rize’s CEO, said.

“We aspire to make monthly payments the standard in residential and commercial leases, and with this investment and the remarkable growth of the Ejar platform, we will be able to expand further across the Kingdom,” he added.

Kuwait’s Bookr closes bridge funding round

Kuwaiti-based startup Bookr, a software-as-a-service-enabled marketplace for beauty services, has successfully completed a bridge funding round from Plus VC for an undisclosed amount.

Established in 2018 by Zaina Al-Bader, Bookr stands as a comprehensive digital platform that connects customers with an array of beauty services, including hair salons, groomers, spas, and stylists.

This influx of new capital is earmarked for a series of strategic enhancements and expansion efforts.

Bookr plans to utilize the funds to refine its core capabilities, amplify its marketing initiatives, and improve the overall customer experience.

Additionally, the investment will support the expansion of Bookr’s team and facilitate its growth across the Gulf Cooperation Council region, broadening its presence.

UAE’s CAMB.AI raises $4m

UAE-based artificial intelligence dubbing startup CAMB.AI has successfully secured $4 million in a seed funding round spearheaded by Courtside Ventures, which also saw participation from a consortium of investors including TRTL Ventures, Blue Star Innovation Partners, Ikemori Ventures, and Eisaburo Maeda.

Established in 2022 by co-founders Avneesh Prakash and Akshat Prakash, CAMB.AI has proprietary technology that enables the startup to offer instant dubbing services for performances in over 100 languages, dialects, and accents, all while preserving the original voices and their unique nuances.

The freshly raised capital is poised to catalyze CAMB.AI’s ambitions for rapid technological advancement and international market penetration.

Saudi fintech IBDA Real Estate receives Bahraini Shariah certificate

Saudi-based fintech, IBDA Real Estate platform, which facilitates the listing and investment in real estate properties, has recently received Shariah certification from Bahrian’s Shariyah Review Bureau for its offerings.

This certification underscores the platform’s adherence to Islamic financial principles, enhancing its appeal to investors seeking Shariah-compliant investment opportunities in real estate.

The Shariyah Review Bureau, headquartered in Bahrain and licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, brings over 19 years of experience to the Islamic financial markets.

With a network of scholars across 19 countries, its services in Shariah certification and Shariah audit are globally recognized, further solidifying the credibility of IBDA’s Shariah-compliant offerings in the competitive real estate market.

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