Saudi Technology Ventures funding rounds account for 30% of MENA capital

STV led $250m worth of funding rounds in 2018, deploying $100m of its $500m fund in its first year of operation
Saudi Technology Ventures funding rounds account for 30% of MENA capital
Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) led a $200m Series F funding round in Dubai-based tech and ride-hailing company Careem, with STV CEO Abdulrahman Tarabzouni also a member of its board.
By Lubna Hamdan
Mon 18 Feb 2019 09:26 AM

Riyadh-based MENA venture capital fund Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) led approximately $250m worth of funding rounds in 2018, accounting for almost 30% of the estimated $893m deployed in the region’s venture capital last year.

In its first year of operation, it deployed around $100m of its $500m fund, and assessed over 500 opportunities, building a portfolio of regional technology start-ups covering digital media, ride-hailing, e-healthcare and cloud communications.

Alongside other global investors, it also led a $200m Series F funding round in Dubai-based tech and ride-hailing company Careem, with STV CEO Abdulrahman Tarabzouni also a member of its board.

Largest venture deal

STV led Saudi Arabia’s largest venture deal of 2018 with its investment in cloud-communications platform Unifonic, which allows companies to connect with customers through SMS, Voice, and other channels.

Additionally, STV invested in Saudi digital video content producer Telfaz11, Egypt-based healthcare appointment app Vezeeta and US-based start-up Proof, which helps online businesses improve user conversions using social proof signals.

“In a very short space of time, we have dramatically increased the quantum of venture capital available to regional start-ups, creating a completely new playing field for MENA VC. Highly attractive fundamentals coupled with unique investment opportunities in the region have seen the number of funds investing in technology grow almost 4-fold over the last six years and we are excited to be a major part of this growth,” said STV chief Tarabzouni.

He added that the fund is now looking to deploy capital at an increased pace as it looks to find, grow and scale the region’s best tech start-ups.

According to McKinsey, start-up and SME funding in MENA constitutes only 10% of the funding in the US, relative to GDP.

The region saw $893m invested in 366 start-ups in 2018, while venture capital funding reportedly rose 31% from 2017, according to market researcher Magnitt.

STV is one of the largest venture capital funds in the Middle East, with over $500m in deployable capital. It began operations in early 2018 and has offices in Riyadh and Dubai.

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