Startups in the MENA region raised $3.94 billion in 795 deals in 2022, representing a 24 percent increase in investment value and a 22 percent increase in deal volume over 2021, according to a recent Wamda report. The top three markets in the region, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which raised about $3.5 billion in 2022, continued to dominate the venture capital landscape.
The UAE came out on top, attracting $1.85 billion in investments across 250 transactions (a rise of 5 percent in terms of investment value). Saudi Arabia came in second with $907 million raised across 153 deals (a 40 percent increase in investment value). Meanwhile, according to the study, Egypt secured the second-highest number of transactions, which totaled 180 amounting to $736 million, a whopping 70 percent increase over 2021.
Other countries that saw an uptick in funding and deal volume included Algeria, Bahrain, Palestine, Oman, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen, Sudan, and Tunisia.
In contrast, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Morocco witnessed a decrease in deal value, with investment in Jordanian startups falling by 76 percent compared to 2021.
Sector-wise, fintech remains the darling of the startup world in Mena, attracting $1.1 billion in investment, nearly double 2021’s figure and almost a third of the total amount raised last year. The top sub-sectors that saw a rise in funding were neobanks, crowdfunding, open banking, and corporate and personal lending.
Mega funding rounds — those worth more than $100 million — were once uncommon for startups worldwide, and almost non-existent in the MENA region. However, this is changing, and the primary reason is fintech, which exploded when the pandemic aided the regional adoption of online services. Fintech companies (or those with fintech solutions at the core of their offerings) delivered five of the MENA region’s ten largest mega-rounds in 2022. These five transactions, a mix of equity and debt financings, totaled $680 million and accounted for nearly 20 percent of all regional startup funding in 2022.
That trend is already continuing into 2023: MNT-Halan, an Egyptian super app that offers a variety of financial products, announced $400 million in new funding in February at a $1 billion valuation.
Despite a global tech industry downturn and broader economic uncertainty, MENA fintech firms are raising more capital than ever before, a trend that could reshape the region’s tech sector. In this context, while Foodies KSA raised $170 million, Tabby UAE managed to secure $150 million in funding.