In the past five years, the tech ecosystem in the Middle East has swelled to more than 100 funds investing in the region and more than 75 accelerators. There have been nearly 30 sizeable exits in the past 10 years, based on stats provided by Dubai-based Wamda Capital and a new initiative, Menascapes.
Menascapes was launched on a volunteer basis by Sharif El-Badawi, a serial entrepreneur who is now Google’s partner lead, VCs and startups, and Ramzy Ismail, program manager at Flat6Labs in Abu Dhabi. It’s meant to be an interactive, community-sourced stockpile of information about the startup ecosystem.
The list of funds active in MENA, from Wamda Capital, is included at the bottom of this post. Walid Faza, the partner who sent me the list, said that the number of funds had grown from 0 to 100 since 2009. “When we started back in 2009/10, none of this existed,” he said by email. MENA has more $1B in available venture capital as of 2015, according to Menascapes. More than 12 funds have announced $50M+ funds just last year.
The growth in the ecosystem stems partly from the longterm economic forces at work: the growing middle class, the rapid adoption of technology and growth in Internet penetration — and the fact that, as far as tech goes, it’s early movers’ advantage. The Middle East also benefits from a core group of local investors, who invest personally in the region, and who have ties to the finance and tech communities in Silicon Valley. Some of their work is beginning to pay off.
Even so, the numbers will probably come as a surprise. “There is a myth that there aren’t exits in the MENA region,”said El-Badawi, who was born in the United States but whose parents immigrated to Southern California from Egypt in the 1960s. Among those listed on the Menascape slide as exits in the past 10 years or so:
- Fawry’s purchase in November by a consortium of investors, including Helios Investment Partner, for $100. Founded in 2008, Fawry is Egypt’s first and largest electronic payment network.
- Rocket Internet’s purchase of regional food delivery site Talabat for $170 million, and its purchase of UAE-based 24h.
- Enwani’s acquisition by Careem, which itself made headlines late last year when it had a $60 million round, with Abraaj Group as the lead investor.