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Tue 7 May 2019 09:37 AM

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Arabic audiobook start-up to create over 5,000 jobs for content creators

Kitab Sawti raised $6 million in funding from investors including Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas

Arabic audiobook start-up to create over 5,000 jobs for content creators
Board and investors - from left to right: Ulrica Saxon (Bonnier) Sebastian Bond (Kitab Sawti) Anton Pollak (Kitab Sawti) Niklas Eklund (Kitab Sawti) Elisabeth Ålander (Bonnier) Victor Bodin (Bonnier)

Swedish start-up Kitab Sawti, which claims to be the world’s largest Arabic audiobook platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding, which it will use to expand its content and reach and create over 5,000 jobs for content creators and narrators by 2021.

The platform was founded in Sweden in 2016 to support the integration Syrian refugee kids into Swedish society and today has over 2,000 audiobooks and more than 1 million registered users from which it has seen 20% monthly growth in paying users.

With offices in Dubai, Cairo and Palestine, some if its new investors include Bonnier Ventures, the venture capital arm of renowned publisher Bonnier, Paltel Group, a public shareholding company with a significant market share in Palestine’s telecommunication sector, and Kaaf Investments, a Dubai-based family investment firm.

Stockholm team

Kitab Sawti has also attracted additional investment from Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas and venture capital firm Northzone, known for being one of the first investors in Spotify.

Sebastian Bond, founder and CEO of Kitab Sawti said the successful of the Series A funding round is “testament to the platform’s growth potential, particularly coming from established venture capitalists and investors who have scaled global billion-dollar businesses before.”

“We have witnessed growing consumption of our content over the past period, with more than 1 million registered users and a 20% month-on-month growth in paying users. The next 12 to 18 months will be very exciting for us as we deploy the funds to bolster the platform’s leading position in the Arabic audiobook industry, supporting more than 5,000 new jobs in the industry in the process,” he said.

Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas said Kitab Sawti is “riding the wave of a global growth trend witnessed in the audiobook industry.”

“I believed in the business and its purpose early on and I continue to support it in a bid to inspire more entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and develop businesses that have positive socio-economic impact in our region. Preserving the Arabic language and nurturing a culture of self-education in our region are both critical needs that I am confident Kitab Sawti will help addressing,” he added.

Ulrika Saxon, CEO at Bonnier Ventures said the firm sees “huge opportunities” in audio and podcasting and the Kitab Sawti team “really impressed” with their ambition and progress.

Kitab Sawti users can listen to books by renowned Arabic authors like Taha Hussein, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik and Sultan Al Mousa. They can also listen to translated international books like Steven Covey’s global best seller, “7 habits of highly effective people”, “Hunger Games” and more from best-selling and award-winning authors such as Dan Brown, Mark Manson and Kazuo Ishiguro.

The platform is accessible through kitabsawti.com as well as the app, which is available for both iOS and Android users.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall