Before we bring our first 5 startups that garnered serious funding money, it’s always good news to hear of new venture capital coming to town. The GCC-based venture capital firm VentureSouq brings its MENA Fintech Fund I, the region’s first sector-specific fund focused on fintech across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region and Pakistan.
The $50 million VentureSouq focuses on key subsectors including payments infrastructure, alternative credit, digital banking, PropTech, InsurTech, and personal financial management.
Let’s look at 5 startups that struck gold with investors between November and December 2021.
1- SimpliFi- MENAP
SimpliFi, a Cards as a Service (CaaS) platform for MENA and Pakistan, has raised $5.1 million in funding to accelerate its expansion across the region following its beta launch in August 2021.
SimpliFi provides businesses a one stop solution to issue and manage their cards program. The company manages all ecosystem partners required to issue cards including banks, card schemes, processors, identity verification, card fulfillment and customer care to deliver a seamless experience across multiple markets.
In addition to providing a purpose-built tech stack, SimpliFi manages day-to-day card operations and compliance functions so businesses can focus on their core strengths whilst leveraging the capabilities and scale of SimpliFi.
SimpliFi has been building the team aggressively with experience from Careem, Grab, Gojek, Uber, PayPal, Marqeta, Mastercard, Facebook, and Network International.
SimpliFi’s PCI DSS certified platform consists of micro APIs, SDKs, a web portal, and a white-label app that companies can use to build, customize, launch and manage their card programs quickly and without any technology or payments background.
2- GrubTech– Middle East
GrubTech, a plug & play, all-in-one operating system for restaurants and cloud kitchens, recently raised a $13 mn Series A investment.
Founded in 2019, GrubTech’s all-encompassing software powers various key functions including kitchen operations, and a broad online presence including integrations with various food aggregators, and on-premise technologies, including an omnichannel point of sale.
GrubTech’s restaurant management system enables its customers to operate more efficiently, provide a better experience for dine-in and online customers, as well as increase sales by effortlessly operating multiple brands from a single location. The all-in-one platform provides customers with a comprehensive view of their business, and unparalleled operational and sales data, allowing them to make much more informed decisions on how they run their business and capitalize on growth opportunities.
Deployed by clients across 15 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, GrubTech has recently celebrated a milestone of processing 2 million orders. The Company plans to use the funds to continue developing innovative solutions and further extend its reach into new markets.
3- Merit Incentives– Dubai
Dubai-headquartered Merit Incentives, a customer and employee engagement solutions developer, has announced a $5 mn Series A investment round.
Merit offers its B2B2C services to several enterprises, including Riyad Bank, Vodafone, Mubadala, Adidas, and Amazon. Merit Incentives’ products include Rewardsby, a software as a service (SaaS) loyalty and rewards marketplace made up of nine redemption modules, and GiftCardsby – a SaaS digital gift card platform enabling instant sales and redemptions from retailers.
Merit Incentives plans to use the funds to grow the team into new territories, and invest in technology, as well as build on the existing artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of its solutions.
The startup operates its own rewards network of 5,000 partner brands across over 100 countries, with more than 500 retailers and merchants in the GCC alone. It has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UK, Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan, along with a technology lab and development team located in Lahore, Pakistan. It recently surpassed 20 million end users globally.
4- Rasan- Riyadh
Rasan, a Saudi-owned fintech and insurtech company, has raised $24 mn in its latest funding round.
Rasan simplifies user experiences and drives operational digitalization, value-chain transformation and collaboration across the Saudi and regional markets. The company provides technology solutions to the insurance brokerage and financial services sector.
Rasan will spend the money on developing new technology and products, and increasing differentiation for Rasan’s InsurTech portfolio including Tameeni Motor, Tameeni SME Health, and Treza.
The investment will also enable Rasan to build and scale multi-sided platforms and expand into new geographical regions. The funding marks the first growth stage InsurTech deal in the Kingdom.
5- Breadfast- Cairo
Grocery delivery startup Breadfast has raised about $26 mn in an initial funding round bringing the total investment to about $33 mn.
Breadfast will use the new funds to expand in 8 cities in Egypt, and the financing will also help the company to expand in sub-Saharan markets.
Breadfast plans to support its network of distribution stores and reduce product delivery time to 20 minutes, from about 1 hour at present. Breadfast is also seeking to develop its technical capabilities beyond its current application and hire more employees.
Established in 2017, the company currently offers more than 2,500 grocery products, with fresh produce representing the largest portion of the company’s revenues today.
This is one of the largest rounds of funding for Egyptian companies.