Saudi Arabia leading the way when it comes to getting women into work

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CAIRO: A flurry of investment deals flourished throughout the Middle East region, with UAE-based venture capitals landing a handful of transactions across multiple sectors.

In a significant move underscoring the growing interest in health technology, Dubai- headquartered Wamda Capital has participated in a $4.7 million seed funding round for the Turkey-based health tech startup Salus.  

This round marks a milestone for the firm, gathering notable investors in its mission to revolutionize corporate mental health services.

Operating in over 45 countries including Saudi Arabia, HotDesk will aim to support XSPACE’s debut in Riyadh via a technical integration partnership. (Supplied)

Northzone led the investment round, with contributions from 500 Emerging Europe, Pitchdrive, and Is Bank’s CVC arm, Collective Spark.  

The round also saw participation from a line-up of angel investors, including Fırat Ileri of Hummingbird Ventures, Adam Anders from Anterra Capital, and Inanc Balci of Crestone VC and Lazada.  

Additional investors include Egem Eraslan of Midas, Can Yucaoglu of MAP Investment, Kivanc Semen of Dataguard, and Mehmet Yilmaz and Joshua Cornelius of Freeletics and Zavvy.

Founded in 2022 by Alperen Adikti and Dincer Karaduman, Salus offers an array of services, including therapy and coaching sessions, along with self-care content, tailored to meet the needs of the corporate environment.

Alperen Adikti, Salus cofounder and CEO

“Closing one of the largest seed rounds ever raised by a Turkish startup just 16 months post-founding, amidst a challenging macroeconomic climate, is not just a milestone – it’s a testament to the urgent need and belief in Salus’ mission. We are excited and ready to propel forward with the support of our exceptional investors and partners,” Adikti said.

The newly acquired capital is earmarked for three areas of expansion. Salus plans to broaden its clinical network significantly, allowing for more extensive and varied mental health support.  

Closing one of the largest seed rounds ever raised by a Turkish startup is a testament to the urgent need and belief in Salus’ mission. We are excited and ready to propel forward with the support of our exceptional investors and partners.

Alperen Adikti, Salus cofounder and CEO

A focus will also be placed on enhancing the user experience, as well as scaling its business-to-business operations, aiming to establish itself as a leader in corporate mental health solutions.

UAE’s Your Compass joins investors in Fork N Knife’s $800k seed round

UAE-based investment firm Your Compass has joined a cohort of Middle Eastern and global investors in Turkey-headquartered cloud kitchen operator Fork N Knife’s recent seed funding round, which successfully raised $800,000.

Established in 2022 by Nasr Aldin and Mohamed Haroun, Fork N Knife specializes in assisting restaurants in enhancing their delivery services while minimizing investment costs.

Founded in 2022 by Yassir Nasr-Aldin, Fork N Knife promotes a cooking-as-a-service model, which enables restaurants and food enthusiasts to launch and expand their own businesses with zero initial capital.  

This model not only reduces entry barriers for aspiring food entrepreneurs but also paves the way for creative culinary concepts to flourish without the typical financial constraints of starting a food business.

“Throughout my eight-year journey in cloud kitchens, witnessing the evolving stages of the industry, it became evident that the cloud kitchen business domain needed a unique model to solve the real challenges faced by restaurant owners. Instead of reducing fixed costs, as is common in cloud kitchens, we completely eliminated them,” Nasr-Aldin said.

The growth of the startups in our VBs is a testament to the collaborative efforts between our founders and venture building experts, says Awad Makkawi, Director of Venture Building at Modus

With the fresh infusion of capital, Fork N Knife has ambitious plans to broaden its geographical footprint. The startup is eyeing strategic entry into the African and European markets, aiming to capitalize on the opportunities in these regions for cloud kitchen services.  

This expansion is expected to significantly amplify Fork N Knife’s impact on the global food service landscape.

Modus Capital launches 8 startups with $2.8m investment

In a significant boost to the startup ecosystem, UAE-based Modus Capital has unveiled the launch of eight new startups, marking a substantial $2.8 million investment across these ventures.  

This initiative is part of Modus Capital’s ambitious venture builder program, which is set to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

The startups making their debut under this program include JamaliBox, MDBX, and Monet, as well as Oscar, Seva, Sindbad.

Stornest and Your Social Smile are the other two companies involved.

Each venture, with its unique business model and market approach, is poised to make a significant impact in their respective industries.

Modus Capital operates a comprehensive network of venture builders, underpinned by a $50 million Venture Builder Fund.  

“The growth of the startups in our VBs is a testament to the collaborative efforts between our founders and venture building experts. With the foundation set, I’m confident that their missions and products will resonate with customers and potential investors, paving the way for further success and funding,” Awad Makkawi, director of Venture Building at Modus, said.

This network spans across key regional hubs including Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Cairo, reflecting Modus Capital’s commitment to nurturing startups in diverse markets.

The venture-building approach of Modus Capital involves an intensive nine-month program designed to empower both established and emerging founders.  

This program goes beyond financial support, encompassing a spectrum of non-financial offerings such as mentorship, access to critical networking opportunities, and other valuable resources.

UAE’s proptech HotDesk partners with XSPACE

UAE’s flexible workspace solution HotDesk announced a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s XSPACE in an effort to boost the Kingdom’s market.

Operating in over 45 countries including Saudi Arabia, HotDesk will aim to support XSPACE’s debut in Riyadh via a technical integration partnership.  

The strategic cooperation will see XSPACE’s locations being built on top of HotDesk’s tech stack, including HotDeskOS for efficient coworking management, HotDesk marketplace for client reach, and integrations with its corporate offerings.

Founded in 2020 by Mohamed Khaled, Hotdesk creates an opportunity for businesses with underutilized workspaces to generate additional revenue by subletting their vacant office space as on-demand workspaces.

MENA fintech sector shows resilience amid a venture slowdown

In the face of a general venture capital slowdown in 2023, the Middle East and North Africa’s fintech sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience, according to MAGNiTT’s latest report.

The analysis shows the sector raised $484 million across 66 deals within the first nine months of the year.

Maintaining its position as a dominant force in the MENA region, fintech captured a significant 36 percent of all funding and accounted for 23 percent of the total deal count in the first three quarters of 2023.  

Despite prevailing economic headwinds, series A valuations in the sector have remained somewhat sustainable, witnessing a slight 2 percent decrease from the highs of 2022.  

However, seed-stage valuations have experienced a more pronounced year-on-year decline of 20 percent.

Additionally, the fintech sector in the MENA region saw a notable increase in merger and acquisition activities, with a 29 percent year-on-year rise in exits recorded by September 2023. The UAE has emerged as a key player, leading the region in these activities.

Egypt’s sports marketplace WayUp Sports raises seed round

Egypt-based sports marketplace WayUp Sports raised a seed funding round for an undisclosed amount led by Beltone Venture Capital and Index Sports Fund.

Launched in 2021, WayUp has over 70 local and international brands on its platform.  

The company aims to utilize the capital to expedite the launch of its private brand, fuel regional expansion, and enhance user experience.

 

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