MENA’s Digital News, Week #11

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and public sector news.

Investments & Acquisitions

Halan, Egypt-based on-demand tuktuk & motorcycle service provider, raises Series A funding from Battery Road Digital Holdings and Algerba Ventures 

Buseet, Egypt-based bus booking startup, raises funding from Vision Ventures 

Gathern, Saudi-based Airbnb for chalets, raises seed funding from Vision Ventures, Inspire Ventures, 500 Startups, Aquilaria Capital Management Fund, and Deyarat Trading Company

Meddy, Qatar-based doctor booking platform, raises money from Egypt’s Modus Capital

ResMed acquires digital respiratory health company Propeller Health. While both companies are in the US, the investors of Propeller health include Hikma Ventures, Corporate VC for Jordan’s Hikma Pharmaceuticals

Sector News

Abu Dhabi’s ASGC Construction partners with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) for smart city innovation 

UNICEF is looking to partner with accelerator programs for open-source early stage startups in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia 

Altibbi, Digital Health Care platform, has partnered with Telecom Egypt (WE) to launch a nation wide telehealth initiative

Tunis issues new “Tunisian Startup Act” law to support startup growth in the country 

Hackers/Founders Sudan

First Hackers/Founders event took place in Sudan on December 1st

Now the fintech news:

Dubai has developed regulations for security token offerings (STOs) as is evident with Aelf’s (crypto-coin) local partnerships 

Qatar Financial Centre Partnering Up with Europe based B-Hive 

Bahrain Economic Development Board Signs MoU with Maharashtra Government (India) to Cooperate in FinTech 

African Fintech Ventures Map highlights companies in Morocco, Tunis, Egypt and Somalia

Landscape of Fintech Companies in Morocco

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round 

Did we reach a new battle frontier: king of the mass-commute sector? 

Let’s face it, taxi ride hailing is not for everyone. It’s expensive for the majority of populations to adopt on daily basis, especially in emerging markets. The opportunity is even more alluring when combined with the lack of (or deteriorating state) of public transport in these markets. 

But it all happened too fast: 

Targeting the same demographic: Halan (mentioned above) also just closed Series A round, to provide motorcycles and tuktuks on-demand. 

The shuttle services are of course not unique to MENA, Grab (Singapore) has shuttle service offerings since last December 2017 and recently expanded that service to include school and airport shuttles. Of course it’s truce with Uber in Singapore has helped focus it’s efforts on serving new segments instead of burning cash on competition

Mass commute is a space that ride-hailing companies have tried and failed to crack in the past, so it’ll be interesting to see who will acquire whom first. 

Further Readings

Softbank’s Vision Fund is hiring an investment team to be based in China’s Shanghai and has now raised $98.58B of it’s $100B goal from 14 investors, up from $93.15B from eight investors a year ago 

Ajman (UAE) Department of Finance case study using Salesforce – queue govtech startups that can provide services via API

Addis Ababa has overtaken Dubai as the world’s gateway into Africa, with Ethiopian Airlines now traveling to over 60 destinations on the continent sponsors Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad Football team, the “biggest sponsorship deal in the history of the club” (AR)

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A passionate geek and believer in the power of entrepreneurship. I work to create inspiring dialogues for people to learn and flourish. I have spent the last 6 years traveling around MENA (and abroad) building and conducting conferences, competitions, challenges and conversations.