MENAbytes Quarterly: $168.1 million raised by MENA startups in 2017 Q3, FinTech emerges as the top vertical

We tracked 30 deals in the previous quarter that brought in funds worth $168.1 million for startups in Middle East & North Africa. Dubai-based Starz Play that’s a video-on-demand startup raised $125 million in Series B, which is 74% of the total funds raised by startups during the previous quarter, so we’ll be leaving it out in most of the analysis below (wherever mentioned).

The breakdown of these 30 deals is as follow:

  • Investments: 23
  • Grants: 5
  • Equity Crowdfunding: 2

Grants: Four of the five grants came from Dubai Expo Live. The exact amounts were not disclosed but it was said that each startup had won up to $100,000 in these grants. So it could be anything between $50,000-100,000. The fifth grant was $130,000 won by WNNA, a Bahrain-based startup. The grant was awarded by

Equity Crowdfunding: Eureeca itself and Udenz secured investment through Eureeca’s crowdfunding investment platform.

Investment Deals by Stage (excl. Starz Play)

Out of 29 startups that received funding in form of investments, grants, and equity crowdfunding, 10 did not disclose the size of funds raised.

  • Most of the 29 funding rounds (i.e. 13) were in  Seed Stage.
  • In terms of funding, Series B and beyond brought in 32 million, 74.24% of the total funds raised during the previous quarter.

Funding Rounds by Vertical (excl. Starz Play)

E-Commerce and FoodTech have been the two biggest verticals lately in terms of exits but they have not been the most popular among investors, for previous quarter atleast.

  • FinTech dominated the charts both in terms of no. of deals and the amount of funding raised by startups. 5 FinTech startups from UAE, Saudi, Egypt & Jordan raised a combined total of $22.8 million, most of which is due to PayTabs Series B round of $20 million.
  • Consumer Internet is also on the rise, with 7 startups from this vertical raising funds in the previous quarter. However, in terms of amount raised, they’re far behind with less than a million raised by these 7 startups. For clarity, we have grouped marketplaces, portals, search engines and new media in one category of consumer internet. A standard followed by different international publications.
  • Foodics, the Saudi-based restaurant management startup raised $4 million taking total amount of funds raised by FoodTech startups to $4.4 million as Egypt’s Yumaima & Mumm raised $200K each.

Biggest Investments

Starz Play obviously secured the biggest round. It was followed by $20 million of Saudi payments startups PayTabs and Dubai-based travel startup Wego. For more, check out the story on biggest tech investment deals.

Breadown by Country for funds raised (excl. Starz Play)

Startups from eight countries of the region raised funds in the previous quarter, in form of investments, grants, and equity crowdfunding.

  • UAE dominated the charts with 7 investments, 2 startups raising funds through equity crowdfunding and two of country’s startups winning grants from Dubai Expo Live.
  • In terms of no. of startups that raised funds, Egypt also did well but the size of the funds raised was way smaller. As can be seen in the chart below, 1 startup from Kuwait raised $1.5 million and 8 from Egypt raised $1.15 million in total.

Top VCs

The investments were made by over 20 regional and international VCs. Middle East Venture Partners, 500 Startups & Flat6Labs invested in two regional startups each.

  • Careem for the first time invested in a startup. They have earlier made acquisitions only.
  • Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing giant of China made an investment in Careem without disclosing details of the deal.


Acquisitions in 2017 Q3

Souq.com acquired Dubai-based delivery startup Wing.ae and FinTech startup TPay acquired its competitor DCBEgypt. Details of both the acquisitions were not disclosed.


Out of 23 startups that received investments, six did not disclose the size of their investment which includes FilKhedma, Narrativa, VUL9, Careem, Bosta & Cherpa. VUL9, the cyber-security startup, however, made it public that they’re now valued at $3 million. Dubai Expo Live also did not specify the exact amount of grant won by startups.

Four of these 23 startups did not disclose who their investors were. They include PayTabs which scored the second largest deal of previous quarter, Kuwait-based fashion startup Nalbes, Amman-based Darpedia, and cyber-security startup VUL9.


We have covered most of the funding rounds from MENA here on MENAbytes. That has helped us keep and maintain a track of tech fundings in the region. For the ones we haven’t covered, we have relied on information available on publications like Wamda, Entrepreneur Middle East & Inc. Arabia.

Even though we have tried our best to share absolutely accurate data, it’s our first attempt at doing so, which means the report could have few errors but with time, accuracy and presentation, both will improve.

For now, we would love to hear your feedback on how do you think we could improve the next MENAbytes Quarterly. You may share it on our Facebook page, Twitter, or email us.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
To Top