Venture Capital Investment in Saudi Firms on the Rise

venture capital

Business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce marketplace Sary has raised SR281 million ($75 million) in a Series C funding round, seven months after it raised its $30.5 million Series B round, according to a Dec. 20 report by Zawya.

The latest funding round, led by Public Investment Fund-backed Sanabil Investments, brings the firm’s total funding raised to date to $112 million, making it one of the top VC-funded Saudi firms.

Founded in 2018 by ex-Careem GM Mohammed Aldossary and Co-founder Khaled Alsiari, the digital marketplace connects over 40,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with brands and wholesalers of consumer goods, helping retailers reach more than 350,000 customers across Saudi.

The Riyadh-based B2B firm is on a mission to disrupt the wholesale industry in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as empower the 20 million MSMEs in the region with a digitalized supply chain solution, starting in its home base of Saudi Arabia.

With the fresh funding, the company plans to expand across the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region — United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain — as well as extend its range of products and services.

Commenting on the raise, Aldossary said, “Over the last 24 months, Sary has built one of the largest and most efficient [fast moving consumer goods] FMCG distribution networks in KSA [the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]. As a Saudi-based startup, the $1.59 trillion broader GCC market is a natural next step for us.”

Aldossary added, “We believe the $90 billion intra-trade across the six countries can be realized with a digitized supply chain that brings efficiency, connectivity, and scalability to local creators and traders.” 

Read more: Saudi BNPL Firm Tamara Raises $110 Million Led By

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Tamara is another Saudi firm that has raised a significant amount of venture capital funding this year. In April, the firm secured a $110 million injection from U.K.-based FinTech unicorn, in what was considered the largest Series A round in the MENA region at the time.

The firm is currently Saudi Arabia’s fastest-growing BNPL provider, recording a 180% month-on-month (MoM) increase in its user base in the six-month period from November 2020 and April 2021.

Read Tamara CEO interview: BNPL Was ‘Highly Needed’ Across MENA, Where Banks Now Play Catch-Up With FinTechs

Last month, Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Tamara’s co-founder and CEO, told PYMNTS in an interview that central banks in the region were highly conservative and banks had monopoly power over the financial system for decades but the tides are changing now, as central banks “play catch-up” to FinTech firms like Tamara that are coming onto the scene and plugging the credit card hole in the market.

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Data from a recent report on the venture capital and startup ecosystems in Saudi Arabia showed total VC investment in startups in Saudi Arabia by the end of the third quarter (Q3) this year was already more than double  what was invested in the 2020 financial year, per The National News.

According to the Q3 KSA Venture Investment Report by data platform Magnitt, compiled in collaboration with the Saudi Venture Capital Company, VC investments in the country’s startups more than quadrupled in Q3 2021, compared with the same period last year.

Overall, startups attracted some $205 million in 34 funding deals during the period, most of which were concentrated in the Kingdom’s FinTech Sector.