MENA’s Digital News, Week #48

This is last weeks post due to challenges with the hosting service, cancellation and transfer to a new host. We’re up on running now!

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Shelvz, Lebanon-based Saas-workforce management platform, raises funding from iM Capital http://bit.ly/2kfmMIv

Foloosi, UAE-based fintech startup, closes a angel funding round of $500k (inclusive of the committed funding in June) http://bit.ly/2A5bxGA

Misk Growth Accelerator kicks off cycle with 11 startups, each of which will receive up to $100k in funding from Seedstars & Vision Ventures by end of cycle http://bit.ly/2kFN7zz

Sector News

Wired Magazine launches Middle East edition http://bit.ly/2LlmVVh 

Youtube launches subscription based premium music streaming service in MENA http://bit.ly/2k6ehiG 

Arrow Labs, Dubai-based wearable workforce management, expands to the USA. They had raised a single funding round from Global Ventures (Dubai) in May, 2018 (amount undisclosed) http://bit.ly/2LoJUPz

Qatar blocks Uber’s acquisition of Careem within the country http://bit.ly/318Vx2y 

Fintech

CareemPay launches mobile top-up capability in Egypt and Pakistan http://bit.ly/2lQpeFw 

Accion Venture Lab & Fund, $33M, launches to invest in MENAP based startups focused on financial inclusion http://bit.ly/2A0bImT

Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) grants the first full digital banking license to Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, which will allow it to provide corporate banking services to Abu Dhabi based companies starting with ones based in ADGM http://bit.ly/2ZTVkmf 

Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) is considering to expand the scope of digital currencies to banks & other countries http://bit.ly/30dybHr 

Central Bank of Egypt to launch over $50M fintech fund http://bit.ly/2kc7KDc 

Further Reading

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor launches a new platform to facilitate freelance work licenses in the kingdom (AR) http://bit.ly/2kaPzhc 

Egypt’s ICT Minister says they plan to launch 7 technological parks in 7 universities across Egypt, with EGP 1B (~$60M) budget from the government, and aims to increase ICT contribution to GDP to 4% by end of year http://bit.ly/2kFEFjE 

Egypt begins digitization of its energy grid http://bit.ly/2ka3qEr

Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, (owned by Mubadala) and the UK government have invested £70M ($86.5M) in a new green technology fund to be managed by London-based Zouk Capital http://bit.ly/2lIVsmk

Long Reads

The World Economic Forum publishes the 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. The UAE leads MENA enablement, infrastructure, ICT, labor and at a globally competitive level, however it’s not faring well on nature, openness and price. Full report here: http://bit.ly/2kqLhCF


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #45

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

Hope you had a good summer and geared up to get back to the grind soon! I skipped the round-up last week; people were off, the media was off, it was nice. So, I’m merging last week’s news with this week’s round-up so you’re all caught up!

Investments (Regional & Related)

Chefaa, Egyptian e-health startup, closed “six-figure seed funding round” from Flat6Labs and 500 Startups http://bit.ly/2YYbTsU

Nana Direct, Saudi grocery platform, raises $6.6M in Series A co-led by MEVP and Impact46, and joined by Watar Partners, Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) Company, Wamda Capital and Alzamil family – this announcement was made in late February via twitter which we covered but the tweet has since been removed http://bit.ly/2Zb10rT

Startups from MENA in Y Combinator Cohort: 
* Lezzoo – Iraq on-demand delivery service in Iraq 
* Breadfast – Cairo breakfast delivery platform
* Trella – Cairo trucking marketplaces
https://tcrn.ch/2zdLNI0 & https://tcrn.ch/2KJqVi5

TechAdvance, Lagos-based payments infrastructure firm, secured $1M in funding from Bahrain’s Lamar Holding. The company has also received an approval for a payment solution service provider (PSSP) license from the Central Bank of Bahrain http://bit.ly/2YT2Nla 

QFPay, Hong Kong QR-based payment company, raises $20M from Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners, MDI Ventures, Rakuten Capital, and VentureSouq (Dubai) http://bit.ly/2YMxnh6 

Incorta, Egyptian founders – SF based, raises $30M in Series C led by Sorenson Capital, GV (Google Ventures), Kleiner Perkins, M12 (Microsoft Ventures), and Telstra Ventures, and expands offices to Chicago, Dubai and Bangalore (already has office in Egypt) http://bit.ly/2HclN41 

Knotel, US Based WeWork competitor, raises $400M in investment, valuing the company at $1B, led by Wafra, Sovereign Wealth Fund of Kuwait, Mori Trust, Itochu, Mercuria, Norwest Venture Partners, Newmark Knight Frank, Bloomberg Beta and Rocket Internet http://bit.ly/2P8zAPw 

Exits

RiseUp Summit, Cairo’s leading tech conference, acquires MENAbytes.com http://bit.ly/2Zg7iGw

Fawry, Egyptian Fintech, finally goes public on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) with a market cap of $366M http://bit.ly/2To8uCg 

Sector News

Pushbots, Egypt, is added to Github’s Student Developer Pack program https://tcrn.ch/2ZjX7Rs 

New Venture Capital fund to launch in Dubai: Vuja De Capital http://bit.ly/2YXCqdH

Flat6Labs Tunis, Attijari Sicar, B@Labs and International Finance Corporation (IFC), collaborate to launch a training-academy for high net-worth individuals in hopes of developing an angel network in Tunisia (not be confused with the Carthage Business Angel Network). A Maghreb Angel Investor Network was also launched. http://bit.ly/31XEi4j

RuPay, Indian credit card company (competitor of Mastercard/Visa) to launch in the UAE http://bit.ly/2ZnHUyF

iPayLinks, Chinese cross-border payment operator, acquires license in UAE and Saudi http://bit.ly/33CZr5n

Egyptian Ministry of Finance is looking to impose taxes on eCommerce and Social Media advertising activities http://bit.ly/2ZldSYx

CBInsights publishes: “The Most Well-Funded Tech Startups In The UAE In One Infographic” http://bit.ly/2zfpkdv 

Thoughts on healthcare + technology

In a random conversation with a friend earlier in summer, he said “you know that most of the meds you’re taking are not even tested on female mice because their hormonal cycle creates variation in results“. I looked it up. It’s true. A large proportion of medication is tested on male mice and male volunteers for “consistency”.

The assumption is: women are just men with hormones, hormones are non-consequential… They clearly aren’t.

As big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning start to march their way into healthcare to support practitioners with diagnosis, monitoring and treatments, my fear is that we’ll discover that the data on female health is largely mis-represented, under reported and researched. It’s an opportunity, but a sad one to acknowledge nonetheless.

Why are we discussing this?

A docu-series, a book, and a youtube episode:

Diagnosis: a docu-series by The New York Times and Netflix
The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence
Last Week Tonight’s “Bias in Medicine” episode.
Yes, it’s an entertainment show, also yes, they do substantial research

In the Sentient Machine by Amir Husain he discusses the long-tail of unknown ailments that can plague an individual’s lives. Health problems that are simply not common enough for science to dedicate the time, effort and resources to research and find cures for. It’s eye-opening and terrifying to accept that much of the process of getting healthcare is getting the right diagnosis, and we still remain largely speculative about alot of it. Not to discount the phenomenal efforts and dedication of the healthcare society, but the way to go is still long ahead.

Our own biology is still a vast mystery, research is guided by the most pressing and widely acknowledged ailments in geographies that have the financing and systems to fund that research. It takes time and dedication and some times a full career to explore a single facet of a single ailment.

As Artificial Intelligence alarms rise to threaten more jobs, what should we be doing to encourage careers research and healthcare? How can we improve funding for research that promotes better living, than defense budgets that frankly, while they may improve the quality of our lives, don’t necessarily fix the vehicles of our life, our bodies.

Just food for thought.


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #42

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

Investments & Acquisitions

SOS Credit, Casablanca-based fintech startup, has received an undisclosed investment from the SEAF Morocco Growth Fund (SMGF) http://bit.ly/2Y9hgFb

CODED, Coding education platform, raises $1.3M Pre-series A funding led by KISP, and joined by 500 startups, Sijam Ventures, Sirdab Lab, Sharq Capital and Abdullah Al-Zabin http://bit.ly/2GoYGmo 

Zid, Saudi-based eCommerce infrastructure provider, raises $2M led by Elm Ventures and joined by Arzan VC & MSA Capital http://bit.ly/32Mk9PJ

PushBots, Saas add-ons provider for startups, sells two SaaS API products to Apilayer from Austria for undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2GqeQfh

Mubadala Ventures, joins investors in funding InCountry, US based data-residency startup, in a series A round of $15M https://tcrn.ch/2XVlwI9 

Sector News

Swvl, Egypt’s on-demand shuttle service, expands into Pakistan’s Lahore http://bit.ly/2Y9O05b

Huobi and CASHU, crypto-payment platforms, announce partnership and expansion to North Africa http://bit.ly/2GiRKHe 

Careem launches new service in Dubai in joint-venture with the Road and Transportation Authority (RTA) called ‘Hala’ which further integrates RTA Taxis into Careem’s app http://bit.ly/32ALZOJ (the partnership was announced in Dec, 2018)

Property Finder and the Dubai Land Department (DLD) sign a partnership to launch an official sales and rental price index for Dubai available through Data Finder platform, and Mo’asher http://bit.ly/2SyLqQR

Iflix, Mayalsian VOD service, halts operations in the Middle East. They had just closed a $50M investment round. https://tcrn.ch/2yfGV4h 

BIGO, Singapore holding company of IMO messenger and BIGO Live, to establish an office in Jordan (BIGO Live is a popular live streaming platform in SEA) http://bit.ly/2MdR2Ps 

SoftBank Vision Fund II has commitments from Apple, Goldman Sachs Group, and Kazakhstan’s government https://on.wsj.com/2YwXVSJ 

UAE x China

SenseTime, Chinese AI startup, to open an EMEA R&D center in Abu Dhabi http://bit.ly/2GvB0g5 

Jollypay, online payment arm of China’s Jollychic, receives license to operate in the UAE http://bit.ly/2M3lhse (Alipay, Alibaba’s payment service, has been operating in the UAE since 2018) 

Fang, China’s #1 real-estate platform, launches in the UAE http://bit.ly/2Y2blBO

Didi, China’s leading ride-hailing service, signed a joint-venture with Symphony Investors and other unnamed investors to establish a regional presence http://bit.ly/2OaulOP 

Neolix, Chinese autonomous vehicle company, signs agreement with Noon.com to trial their vehicles in Saudi Arabia and UAE http://bit.ly/2Z7C691 

Further Readings (Economic)

CooperFitch publishes salary guide for Saudi Arabia (AR) http://bit.ly/32MDzE0 

Lebanon issues New Commercial Law to improve ease-of-business, clauses are very positive for startups. Unofficial english translation is here: http://bit.ly/2Z2k5ZS and full draft (much longer) in official gazette here (AR) http://bit.ly/2SpE5D4 

Worldbank releases new report “Promoting a New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa” http://bit.ly/30SgP3L 

Investcorp, Bahrain-based “alternative investment manager”, announces a $142M for its Private Equity Fund for India http://bit.ly/2SEmUxR 

AJ Capital and Investment LLC (AJCI), Al Jallaf Family Office, acquires a 51% stake in Kenyan micro-insurer, Insurance For All (IFA) Ltd http://bit.ly/2OhHu8Q

Long Reads

Saudi authorities issue a “Fintech Access Guide” that includes: regulations and frameworks for companies that wish to setup or expand into the kingdom http://bit.ly/2MhJriI 

IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report is out and MENA (UAE & Saudi as per their research) remain the second highest regions for average cost of breaches for entities at $5.97M! The average cost per breached record in MENA is $173. Full Report here: https://ibm.co/2YiJxx7 and a more interactive cost calculator can be found on their website here: https://ibm.co/2YahdZF 

Visa’s eCommerce in the UAE Report on the state and projections of eCommerce in the UAE. Market is estimated at $8.3B in 2018 and growing 23% annually, UAE consumers spend per transaction is one of the highest globally at $100+ per transaction http://bit.ly/2YqClyS

Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 is out, MENA countries don’t rank very high globally, but are on par in some categories. Excerpt is 20 pages, Full report is 400+, pick your weekend read! both can be found here http://bit.ly/2M9QVnX 


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here or on Whatsapp. Follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!