Top 100 MENA start-ups raise over $1.4bn in funding

New research also reveals just 12% of successful founders in the region are female

The top 100 start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) together have raised over $1.42 billion in funding and each has raised more than $500,000 individually, according to new research.

Following a record year of more than $870 million in startup investment, analysts MAGNiTT published a report into the backgrounds of the founders of MENA’s most successful start-ups.

It said the 100 start-ups, including the likes of Careem, Souq and Fetchr, are made up of a total of 189 founders, with 40 percent created by sole founders. 

In MENA, 12 percent of successful founders are female in comparison to 15 percent in Europe and 17 percent in the US, the research showed.

Research showed that on average in MENA, founders had 9 years worth of experience before starting their companies in comparison to six years in the US.

It added that 41 percent of the start-up founders graduated from MBAs including Harvard, INSEAD and LBS while 35 percent of founders previously had experiences in the region, with Yahoo Maktoob, Dubizzle, Bayt and Zawya alumni making up 8 percent of the top 100 MENA start-up founders.

Geographically, 38 percent of MENA’s 100 start-up founders are from Lebanon and Jordan while the UAE hosts 50 percent of the companies even though only 1 percent of founders are Emiratis.  

The report said: “The data highlights that founders in the region have often come from corporate backgrounds. This indicates that the experience and knowledge provides them with the tools to tackle and overcome such issues.”

It added: “While celebrating the tremendous success of the likes of Souq and Careem, both of whom have founders with a wealth of experience, our research highlights areas that can be developed and fostered through policy changes and investment to further help shape the startup ecosystem across MENA.”

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