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GITEX is back, and with it comes announcements of investments, partnerships, and new funds. South American companies are in the spotlight as Kavak merges with Carzaty and IHC acquired a majority stake in Lulo Bank. e& launched a $250M VC fund. 21Shares Bitcoin ETP debuts on Nasdaq Dubai. Finally, reports on the gender gap in VC funding, Corporate VC, and Venture Law in MENA. 

💰 Startup Investments: $80.6M+ was invested across 18 startups this week, led by two $20M deals for Telda and VUZ. This brings the total value of investments in startups in October to $113M across 27 deals. 
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Flat6Labs Ignite (Abu Dhabi) graduated its third cohort of 9 startups:
  • DarDoc (UAE, healthtech)
  • DigitalFirst AI (Poland, Enterprise Saas for Marketing)
  • FitLov (UAE, Fitness)
  • Hulexo (UAE, POS system)
  • Fundo Mundo (Turkey, Edutech)
  • Lune (UAE, Fintech)
  • Makan (UAE, Furniture rental)
  • Reach Channel Pro (UAE, Enterprise Saas)
  • The Scalable CFO (UAE, Finance)
Each startup received up to $250k in equity funding from the program.
Telda, Egypt-based digital bank, raised $20M in seed funding led by Global Founders Capital and joined by Sequoia Capital and Block. The startup was founded in 2021 and has recently secured license approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to launch as a consumer money and payment app in the Egyptian market.

VUZ (formerly 360VUZ), UAE-based extended reality (XR) and metaverse startup, raised $20M in series B funding from Caruso Ventures, Vision VC Fund, e& capital, DFDF (Dubai Future District Fund), WIN (Webit Investment Network), SRMG, Elbert Capital, and Yasta Partners, Faith Capital, Panthera Capital and existing investors. The startup was founded in 2017 and offers over 20k hours of content covering entertainment, creators, sports, and XR, VR, and AR experiences virtually.

🚀  Quick Investments

Yellow Door Energy, UAE-based solar power company, raised $400M in equity funding led by Actis, and joined by International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mitsui, and APICORP. This deal was announced as a controlling stake acquisition on Jul 31, 2022, pending regulatory approval without disclosing value. The company was founded in 2015 and has facilities that produce 106MW in operation and 104MW awarded and under construction across the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and South Africa


The National Automotive Company (NATCO), Egypt-state-owned automotive company, acquired 33% of Electrified, Egypt-based B2B EV services platform, for an undisclosed value. The startup was founded in 2018 and provides a platform for product comparison, eCommerce, and electric vehicle services in Egypt.  

Kavak, Mexico-HQ pre-owned cars platform, merges with Carzaty, Oman-based online retailer of new and used cars, as part of operations expansion in the GCC. Kavak was founded in 2016, it has raised funding from SoftBank at an $8.7B valuation in 2021, and plans to invest $130M in its GCC expansion in Oman and the UAE. Crazaty was founded in 2018 and raised funding from Innovation Development Oman (IDO Investments).

Unifonic, Saudi-HQ customer engagement platform, acquired Sestek, Turkey-based conversational automation company, value undisclosed. Unifonic was founded in 2006 and raised $125M in a series B investment round in 2021. Sestek was founded in 2000 and has since developed a team of 100+ R&D and technology specialists to work on product development, which will enhance Unifonic’s offerings.

International Holding Company (IHC), Abu Dhabi, acquired a 49.9% stake in Lulo Bank, Colombia-based digital bank, for $200M. Lulo Bank was founded in 2020 and was launched in June 2022; it has over 120k users to date.


Neumora Therapeutics, US-based biotech startup, raised $112M in series B funding from Abu Dhabi Growth Fund (ADG), Mubadala Capital and other global investors. The startup was founded in 2020 and works on precision medicines for brain diseases through the integration of data science and neuroscience to address neuropsychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Cerc, Brazil-based fintech startup, raised $106.6M (550M Reais) in funding led by Mubadala Capital. The startup was founded in 2015 and has announced plans to IPO the startup without a disclosed date.

Isthara CoLiving, India-based co-living and smart food court startup, raised $10M in funding led by Eagle Investments (UAE). The startup was founded in 2017 focused on shared accommodations, but expanded to smart foodcourts in 2020 and now operates 50 food courts across India.

Wellbees, US-based employee wellness startup, raised $2.2M in seed funding from Mindshift Capital (UAE), 212, Assist Ventures, Sarus Select Capital and Doha Tech Angels. The startup was founded in 2013 and the funding will allow the startup to establish a data science team and increase its market share, especially in the UK and MENA markets.  

eSAT Global, US-based direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity solutions provider, raised funding from Yahsat, UAE-based global satellite operator and a subsidiary of Mubadala, value undisclosed. eSAT Global was founded in 2017 and focuses on providing satellite connectivity to low-cost IoT devices across sectors like oil and gas, smart agriculture, transportation, and maritime.  


💰 Funds and Programs

e& (Etisalat Group) launched e& Capital, a $250M VC fund to invest in startups at the growth stage. The fund has already made investments in VUZ and LabLabee (France).

NClude by Global Ventures has secured commitments from Mastercard, value undisclosed. The fund is anchored by Banque Misr and has commitments from multiple Egypt-based banks, it announced its second closing of $110M in September of this year.

Fireside Ventures, India-based VC firm, announced the close of its $225M Fireside Fund III with commitments from the Investment Corporation of Dubai (Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund). The fund aims to invest in early-stage startups across health and wellness, edutainment, lifestyle and FMCG.

Mamo Pay, UAE-based P2P fintech startup, completes its testing period and was granted a license by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to operate within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Wio, UAE-based digital bank owned by ADQ, partnered with Stripe, US-based financial infrastructure platform for businesses, to power UAE-based SMEs with eCommerce and online payments.

Geidea, Saudi-HQ payment provider, expands its integrated POS systems for F&B businesses to the UAE.  


21Shares, Switzerland-HQ issuer of cryptocurrency exchange-traded products, lists ‘21Shares Bitcoin ETP’ on Nasdaq Dubai. 21Shares is a subsidiary of, a crypto investment platform, that expanded to the UAE in September 2021. The Exchange Traded Product (ETP) is physically-backed and is one of 46 similar listings that the company has across 12 markets.


Wamda and TiE Dubai publish ‘The Gender Gap in Startup Investment’ report, which examines the status of venture capital funding into female-led startups across MENA. According to the report, female-led startups have attracted only 2% of the value of all funding in the first three quarters of 2022, while teams that have mixed-gender founders have attracted just 5.3%. While 57.8% of founders believe that MENA-based investors are less likely to invest in women-led startups in comparison to their global counterparts. This is not far from the truth since GCC-based investors, which hold the biggest funds regionally, have invested in only 19% of female-led startup deals, while the rest of the funding came from the rest of MENA and international investors equally. [report

Stryber published its bi-annual ‘Corporate Venturing Report MENA’, which tracks corporate venture capital (CVC) activity, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), and corporate venture building (CVB) in the region. According to the report, CVC activity has gradually decreased in the first half of 2022 across the region, but remains strong in Egypt and Saudi, while the healthcare sector attracted the highest participation of CVC investments. [report

Checkout published the 'Digital Transformation In MENA 2022' report that looks at the most powerful trends shaping the digital economy across MENA. According to the report, 70% of consumers cite a digital payment method as their preferred option. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, cash on delivery is nearly non-existent as a preferred ecommerce payment method. Prepared food (F&B) is the top category of items purchased online, followed by Apparel.

Taylor Wessing law firm published the ‘MENA Venture Law Guide’, which breaks down the trends in the market, common due diligence practices, governance structure, trends in share structures and so forth.


🇸🇦 Saudi 

The Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) decision to obligate advertisers to obtain Mawthooq license entered into force on October 1st. The Mawthooq license permits businesses and individuals to advertise on social media targeting the Saudi-based audience without facing fines and obliges them to follow content, ads, and ratings issued by the kingdom, as well as undertaking to provide any data, information, or reports requested by the Authority. GCAM also published 11 categories of advertisers who do not require the Mawthooq license. This includes personal promotion of graphic or photography work (portfolio promotion), and micro-businesses (productive families), among others.

🇧🇭 Bahrain

Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has launched a new Innovation Licence for businesses focused on WI-FI 6, Blockchain, IoT, AR/VR/XR, Digital twinning, and millimeter technology.

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