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Saudi Arabia unveils a roadmap to transform its aviation sector into a $2 billion industry

Launch Summary – Regional cooperation is booming to drive digital transformation

CAIRO: Digital transformation is at its peak as regional companies join hands to further accelerate technological development in the Middle East and North Africa.

In addition to the partnerships forged this week, Saudi Arabia’s Alraedah Digital Solutions, the innovation arm of Alraedah Digital Group, has signed an agreement with regional fintech ABHI to advance financial inclusion in the Kingdom.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alraedah Digital Solutions will leverage ABHI’s advanced technological capabilities to introduce a range of innovative financial services tailored to the Saudi market.

The collaboration will focus on leveraging Alraedah’s deep knowledge of local market dynamics to jointly launch new financial products.

Additionally, Alraedah has committed to significant financial investment, providing access to $200 million over three years to support the development and localization of ABHI products in the Kingdom.

“We are excited to join forces with ABHI to revolutionize the financial landscape in Saudi Arabia. This partnership underscores our commitment to supporting innovation and economic empowerment through strategic collaboration. Together, we aim to redefine access to financial services and empower individuals and businesses across the region,” said Paul Melotto, CEO of Alraedah Digital Solutions.

Paul Melotto, CEO of Alraedah Digital Solutions, and Omair Ansari, CEO and co-founder of ABH. Delivered

Founded in 2021, ABHI specializes in earned wage access, invoice factoring, SME working capital, revenue-based financing and payroll solutions.

To date, ABHI claims to have supported more than 1,000 companies, increasing the financial stability of approximately 750,000 employees and providing more than $300 million in loans across regions.

The company is backed by high-profile investors including Y Combinator, VEF, SpeedInvest, Venture Souq, Global Ventures and Zayn Capital.

Comera Financial Holding from Abu Dhabi joins forces with Egypt’s Beltone Holding

Comera Financial Holding, an Abu Dhabi-based technology and fintech group, has joined forces with Beltone Holding, a leading financial services provider in Egypt, to enhance digital transformation and improve customer experience in the North African country.

The strategic partnership focuses on knowledge transfer and the introduction of new digital solutions across the region.

Comera and Beltone’s shared goal is to develop and deploy advanced products that enhance customer experiences across financial sectors, including payments, consumer finance, SME finance and supply chain finance.

“This collaboration represents a key step forward in our commitment to increasing digital access and improving financial services for our customers,” said Dalia Khorshid, Group CEO of Beltone Holding.

The cooperation will enable the use of the expertise of both companies to introduce cutting-edge technological solutions not only in Egypt, but also in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

MoneyHash works with Visa

US-based and MENA-focused fintech MoneyHash has announced a new partnership with digital payments company Visa.

The aim of this partnership is to provide secure and enhanced digital payment solutions across the region.

Thanks to the cooperation with Visa, MoneyHash will gain access to a wide range of Visa digital payment solutions, enriching its service offer with advanced technologies such as network tokenization.

Additionally, this partnership enables MoneyHash to leverage Visa’s vast global reach, capabilities and renowned security infrastructure.

These elements are critical to Visa’s mission to connect the world through an innovative, reliable and secure payment network that now spans the entire MENA region.

This strategic alliance is expected to significantly enhance MoneyHash’s ability to serve customers with payment solutions.

Dubizzle is taken over by Drive Arabia

Dubizzle Group, the leading online classifieds platform in the Middle East, has further strengthened its position in the automotive sector across the MENA region with the acquisition of Drive Arabia.

Known for its strong brand presence over the past two decades, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Drive Arabia brings valuable expertise and a loyal customer base to the Dubizzle Group.

This acquisition will enable Dubizzle Group to enhance its automotive advertising services, introduce new, innovative products and expand its market reach.

The Drive Arabia integration is expected to significantly enhance Dubizzle Group’s ability to meet the evolving needs of automotive customers across the region.

Egypt’s Swypex secures $4 million in seed round

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Swypex announced its entry into the financial technology scene as part of a $4 million seed investment round led by US venture capital fund Accel.

This investment represents Accel’s first foray into the fintech sector in the region and includes contributions from Foundation Ventures, Raba Partnership and several leading industry angels.

Licensed by the Central Bank of Egypt, Swypex aims to become the first comprehensive platform aimed at eliminating financial inefficiencies and maximizing business potential in the country.

The platform integrates payments, invoice management and corporate smart cards into one system designed to streamline financial operations.

Swypex products are designed to simplify financial management for businesses, enabling them to automate workflows and facilitate easy payments.

The corporate cards offered by Swypex are designed specifically for Egyptian businesses to help reduce costs, increase operational efficiency and support scalable growth.

Monsha’at graduated 25 startups from Qassim University

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, also known as Monsha’at, announced the successful completion of 25 startups from Qassim University’s business incubator under the University Startups Initiative program.

The business incubator is designed to facilitate the transformation of creative ideas and university-level projects into market-ready start-ups capable of securing investment.

During their time in the incubator, the startups managed to grow their customer base by 35 percent and successfully secured two investment rounds totaling approximately SR500,000 ($133,317).

Since its inception in 2023, the University Startups Initiative Program has graduated 75 startups in partnership with three government universities located in Riyad, Al-Ahsa and Qassim.

Startup funding drops sharply in April

Startup funding in the MENA region plummeted in April, with only 19 startups raising $55 million.

That represents a 78 percent month-over-month decline from the $254 million raised in March, though it represents an 87 percent year-over-year increase, according to Wamda’s monthly report.

The largest amount of financing in April was received by Fortis, a fintech start-up based in the United Arab Emirates, which raised $20 million in a Series A round.

This was followed by WEE, which raised $10 million in a pre-Series A round, and Tunisia’s Qodek, which raised $8 million in a Series B round.

Geographically, UAE-based startups led the funding charts, with $32 million distributed across six deals, while Egyptian startups received $8.7 million across five deals.

In contrast, Saudi startups saw a noticeable drop in investment, attracting only $4.8 million across three deals.

In terms of the sector, fintech remained the best funded – four companies raised $25.7 million, of which $20 million was allocated to Fortis alone.

E-commerce startups received $10.5 million in two rounds of funding, and artificial intelligence company Qodek raised $8 million. Additionally, three software-as-a-service providers raised a total of $3.5 million.

When it comes to gender representation in funding, disparities remain significant.

Only one woman-founded company managed to secure $100,000, compared to $43 million for male-founded companies, highlighting the ongoing challenges in achieving gender parity in the startup ecosystem.