Despite a weak economy due to COVID-19, Saudi’s startups hit a new record funding high in the first half of 2020. They raised $95 million, a 102% increase compared to the same period last year, according to a MAGNiTT & INSEAD report.
Meanwhile, total funding in the first half of 2020 surpassed all funding in 2019, which amounted to $67 million.
- Funding for Saudi Arabia-based startups has grown significantly faster than the average in the 17 MENA countries, which have seen a 35% increase in total funding and an 8% drop in the number of deals during H1 2020.
- Saudi Arabia ranked third in the region in both number of deals and total funding, with $95 million invested in 45 deals. The UAE maintains its top position with $385 million in funding, followed by Egypt with $126 million.
- The Kingdom accounted for 15% of total funding and 18% of deals in MENA during the first half of 2020.
- The top five funding rounds account for more than 80% of all funding in the first half of 2020.
- A total of 45 venture deals took place in the Kingdom, and 500 Misk MENA accelerator, 500 startups, Impact46, KAUST, OQAL, and SVC were among the most active investors.
- Thirty-two instituations invested in Saudi-based startups, an increase of 7% compared to the first half of 2019. Of these investors, 59% are based in Saudi Arabia, while 41% are based outside of the Kingdom, mainly in the UAE and the US.
- Many investors have made a shift in their investment mandate, both in terms of stage and industry.
- The investments are notably active in industries that have seen a significant increase in adoption amid COVID-19, such as e-commerce and e-learning
- Jahez has raised the highest funding round in the Kingdom with $36.5 million, followed by Nana with $18 million. The companies are active in food and grocery e-commerce, respectively. Noon Academy, which had the third largest funding of $13 million, focuses on EdTech.
- E-commerce achieved the top spot as the most active industry in terms of total funding, accounting for 67% of all funding and 22% of deals, followed by education and delivery and transport.
- Education is a rising industry in Saudi Arabia, with Noon Academy’s $13 million funding round.
- On the other hand, some industries, such as sports and fitness, saw a drop in deals and revenues.
- With many people staying home, the transportation sector has been hit significantly by COVID-19.
Here are the top 5 disclosed deals in Saudi Arabia in H1 2020
Funding round: $36.5 million Funding stage: Series A Sector: Food Delivery
Funding round: $18 million Funding stage: Series B Sector: Online Grocery
Funding round: $13 million Funding stage: Pre-Series B Sector: Ed-tech
Funding round: $6.6 million Funding stage: Series A Sector: Digital B2B marketplace
Funding round: $2.4 million Funding stage: Series A Sector: Last-Mile delivery
Saudi Arabia’s government launched many initiatives to alleviate the burden of the COVID-19 outbreak, including deferred payments, waived fees and bills, paid vacation, and salary guarantees for 70% of companies’ Saudi employees.
Meanwhile, MENA’s startups raised $659 million in the first six months of 2020, a 35% increase in total funding from the first half of 2019.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the only two MENA countries to see an increase in their share of total funding. The kingdom saw the largest percentage increase in total funding from H1 2019 to H1 2020.