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Careem gets the Munchies. Saudi issued startup-friendly laws on company formations and share categories for private companies. Private and public sectors are determined to bring improved payments and financial inclusion to the region. Snap+ in UAE & Saudi. Reports on cross-border payments, banking sentiment in the UAE, the mental health of employees in ME, and ESG for companies. 

💰 Startup Investments: We wrap up June with $324M invested across 65 startups, $182M of those were announced just this week led by Pure Harvest Smart Farms’ $180M funding round. 

🟩🟩⬜️⬜️  H1 2022: $1.7B was invested across 332 deals in H1 2022, up from $1B across 312 deals in H1 2021. UAE-based startups attracted 37.2% of the deals’ value, $645M, followed by Saudi-based startups which captured 32.4% of the invested value, $561M 

The top deals in the first half of 2022 are:
  • Pure Harvest Smart Farms - $180.5M 
  • Foodics - $170M - Pre-Series C
  • Rain - $110M - Series B
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 INVESTMENTS

PureHarvest Smart Farms, UAE-based agritech startup, raised $180.5M in convertible financing led by Olayan Group, and joined by Metric Capital Partners and IMM Investment Corp. The company is looking to acquire additional financing through debt and project financing to expand in Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It already has 4 farms (22 hectares) in the UAE and Saudi, and plans on increasing its presence in Saudi as well as Kuwait in the next 18 months.

🚀 Quick Investments:
  • Nabeeh, Palestine-based services marketplace, raised a six-figure funding round from Saudi-based angel investors. (AR)  
  • School of Humanity, UAE-based online high school education platform, raised seed funding from Education in Motion (EiM), value undisclosed.
  • Mr Mandoob, Saudi-based on-demand logistics, raised a funding round led by Siraj Holding, ‘Business Directory’ Company and angel investors, value undisclosed.
  • UPYO, UAE-based NFT marketplace, raised $1M in seed funding from angel investors.
Flat6Labs Tunisia graduates their 7th cohort of 8 Tunisian startups:
  • Kumulus (clean water tech)
  • Evadam (KYC tech)
  • Slidzo (collaborative presentation editor)
  • OTO (ride-hailing)
  • Ijeni (services marketplace)
  • Yaz (wholesale eCommerce)
  • Birdhouce (furniture platform)
  • Tik Tak Pro (sales management solution)
Each startup received up to $65k in equity funding from the program.
Demo day link 

 ACQUISITIONS

Careem acquired Munch:On, UAE-based food subscription platform, for an undisclosed value. Munch:On was founded in 2016 and provides a food delivery subscription service to employees in the UAE, Pakistan and Saudi. As part of the acquisition Munch:On will cease its operations and rebuild the product into the Careem ecosystem.

BinDawood Holding, Saudi-HQ grocery retailer, received approval from Saudi’s ​​General Authority for Competition to acquire 62% of International Applications Trading Company (IATC), which was announced in March of 2022.  
 

 INVESTMENTS IN INTERNATIONAL STARTUPS

JobGet, US-based on-demand labor platform, raised $52M in series B funding co-led by Jazz Venture Partners and Sanabil Investments. The startup was founded in 2019 and is used by over 50k companies.

Eclipse Foods, US-based biotech company, raised $40M in series B funding from multiple global investors including that KBW Ventures. The company was founded in 2019 and produces proprietary plant-based dairy products which they claim are closer to animal milk by using micelles.

Bykea, Pakistan-HQ on-demand transportation and logistics platform, raised a $10M investment from Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and other investors. The startup was founded in 2016 and says it has over 1.7M monthly active users (MAU).
 

 SECTOR NEWS

💰 Funds and Programs

The Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) makes commitments to Partners for Growth, US-based venture debt fund, value undisclosed. The fund will focus on investing in growth-stage startups in fintech, healthcare, and life sciences.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched an Open Finance Lab, a six-month program that will work with banks, fintechs and regulators to increase consumer protection, financial inclusion, social benefits, and economic opportunities. The program already has signed up Commercial Bank of Dubai, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah and Zand.
2Bminer.com, Czech Republic-based crypto mining company, signed a strategic partnership with Seed Group, the Private Office of the Royal Family of Dubai’s Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, to help them expand operations in the UAE and MENA region. According to 2Bminer, they already have a green-energy-powered mining center in Abu Dhabi.

Talabat launched tExpress in Jordan, an on-demand last-mile delivery service that capitalizes on Talabat’s experience in the market.

Lucky, Egypt-based loyalty startup and subsidiary of DSQ Group, secured final approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to launch card services to customers.

Standard Chartered Bank Saudi Arabia launched an enhanced API infrastructure (Open Banking) platform to engage with partners and fintechs in the country.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Finance and Apple announced that the Apple Pay services will be launched in Kuwait. The company is also in talks with the Direct Investment Promotion Authority to establish Apple offices in Kuwait.

Vezeeta, UAE-Egypt-HQ healthtech platform, reportedly laid off about 10% of its 500-person team last week.

Snapchat launched its paid-tier, Snap+, in 9 markets globally including the UAE and Saudi.

Shahid, SVOD platform owned by MBC Group, signed an agreement with Emirates Airlines to provide their original content exclusively on the airline's in-flight entertainment system.

Aerodyne Group, Malaysia-HQ company that specializes in drone and data technology and digital transformation, is launching its second global HQ in Dubai, UAE, as part of the EXPO 2020 continuity program.

 

 RESEARCH

The World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence published the ‘Container Port Performance Index (CPPI)’ which ranks port performances worldwide. According to the report, 6 out of 10 top-performing ports in the world are in the MENA region; 5 in the GCC and 1 in Tunisia. The highest performing port in the world is King Abdullah Port in King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea, followed by Salalah Port in Oman, and Hamad Port in Qatar. [report

Mastercard published the ‘Borderless Payments Report’ 2022, which shows global cross-border payment network activity through surveys of consumers and merchants in 15 countries globally including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. According to the report, the volume of transactions sent from the UAE and Saudi increased in 2021 by 9% and 6% respectively, and the volume of transactions sent to the UAE and Saudi decreased by 11% and 1% respectively. The top two reasons consumers make cross-border payments are to buy products from abroad and financially support my family and friends who live in a different country. 73% of consumers send money using an app, and 46% use a website — overlap shows that some consumers will use both mobile apps and websites. [report]

KPMG and DataEQ publish ‘UAE banking sentiment index 2022’ that benchmarks consumer sentiment on social media amongst major retail banks in the UAE. According to the report, the operational net sentiment which is comprised of conversations about banks’ operations and reputations, is -66.8%. Generally, the conversations online are dominated by negative sentiment conversations across all categories. The negative sentiment is driven by low turnaround time. And the analysis shows a drop in customer sentiment from positive to extremely negative after customer acquisition. [report]

PwC Middle East published the ‘Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022’ which surveyed employees across the Middle East on their work environment preferences. According to the report, 63% of respondents said they were capable of performing their job remotely, yet 28% of them are working in-person full time by request of their employers, highlighting a big gap between employees’ and employers’ expectations. The gap between expectations between employees and employers in the Middle East is the highest globally. Only 33% of employees surveyed said they have received support or resources to manage their own well-being, and 40% believe they have received support to improve diversity and inclusion within their teams, as well as working with people that share different views. [report]

ASDA’A BCW published the ‘Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Research’ report that shows the results of a survey of decision-makers in the UAE and Saudi to understand their perceptions about ESG. According to the report, 41% of business leaders say they already have an ESG framework for their business, while 26% say that they do not have one and are not developing one currently. However, only half of the leaders that claimed to have an ESG framework for their business say that they fully understand the objectives and content within that framework. Only 12% of business leaders say that climate change will not impact their business, while 30% of business leaders in Saudi say that it will have a big impact on their business.

 

 POLICY

🇸🇦  Saudi

Saudi’s Council of Ministers joint-stock approves a new ‘Companies’ Law’ that introduces new types of companies such as a ‘simplified joint-stock company’ aimed at startups and VCs in the kingdom. It also brings down the statutory requirements and procedures for small, medium, and micro companies, in addition to simplifying the requirements and procedures for establishing companies. The law ​​also allows the issuance of different types of shares with varying categories and rights, privileges or restrictions, and the possibility of issuing shares allocated to employees. The full text of the law is not yet available, but the approval was announced in the national gazette. 

It also issued guidelines in regards to the electronic invoicing law that was mandated across the kingdom by December 2021 and phase two of the program which mandates companies to connect their invoicing systems with the Authority by January 2023. The guidelines cover technical specifications, procedures and requirements for abiding by the electronic invoicing law. (AR) 

 
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