MENA’s Digital News, Week #46

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

Investments & Acquisitions

NowPay, Egypt-based payday advance startup, raises $600k in Seed funding from Endure Capital and 500 Startups 

Mecal, eCommerce platform focused on men’s accessories, raises investment from Ibtikar Fund and Innovative Startups and SME’s Fund (ISSF) – amount undisclosed

Trolley, Egypt-based grocery delivery, raises $200k in funding from a Kuwaiti angel investor It’s unclear if that funding is inclusive of the amount raised from Y Combinator or not 

Falcon Network, Dubai-based angel investment network, invests $450k in 6 startups: Aion Sigma, Caravan, Saaya Health, Teacherly, Virtual i Technologies and Workaround

SINC, Bahrain-based workforce management startup, raised $250k led by Dubai Angel Investors and other regional investors for expansion 

Platform 9, US-based fully managed hybrid cloud platform, raises $25M in series D led by NGP Capital, joined by Mubadala Ventures and others

Drop, Canadian retail offers startup, raises $44M led by HOF Capital (a fund led by some of Egypt’s wealthiest family groups)

Cisco acquired US-based Voicea (Egyptian founders); Voicea had previously acquired Dubai-based Wrappup & their team, which are now a part of the second acquisition. Wrappup had raised investment from BECO Capital, 500 Startups, Arzan VC, Womena, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Dubai Angel Investors, and Hala Fadel 

Sector News

Jordan introduces new taxes for social media, influencers and eCommerce 

Eventtus, Egypt HQ event platform, expands to Saudi 

Paytm, India, plans expansion of Paytm Mall & eBay into the Middle East 

Aster DM Healthcare to setup an “Aster Innovation and Research Centre” between GCC and India 

Viu, Asian content streaming platform with operation in MENA, announces collaboration with Wattpad “social storytelling platform” to produce more original content 


BLOMbank, Lebanon, upgrades existing NFC-enabled BLOMPay, mobile payment service, with Mastercard integration 

ADGM Reglab, Abu Dhabi, adds 4 more startups: DAPI (UAE), PointCheckout (UAE), Jibrel Network (Switzerland) & Ekofolio (Luxemburg) 

Central Bank of Bahrain issues final rules on “insurance aggregators” 

Tunisian Post launches a QR payment solution “Masterpass QR” in a bid to encourage mobile payments

Long Reads

Snapchat commissioned a study of Saudi Nationals usage of the platform: Saudi’s watch more online video than traditional TV; 80% view premium short-from videos more here: 

Pew Research Center conducts study “In Emerging Economies, Smartphone and Social Media Users Have Broader Social Networks” on users in 11 countries including: Lebanon, Jordan & Tunisia:
*Users reported using smartphone for getting regular news: 55% Jordan (highest), 51% Lebanon, only 31% Tunisia
*Look up health related information: 70% Jordan (highest), 61% Lebanon, 54% Tunisia

Further Reading

Lulu Group, UAE based retail conglomerate, announces plan to invest $500m in Egypt as part of its expansion into the country

For the weekend:

“If you invest in yourself, no one can take that away from you”
– Warren Buffet

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