After the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries went into lockdown, and as a result, many businesses were closed. Some, however, managed to survive and even thrive in the changing environment. Among these were startups from sectors such as fintech, agri-tech, prop-tech, transport, delivery, restaurant platforms, and cloud kitchens.
In its latest list, Forbes Middle East named 50 Most-Funded Startups, with the UAE as the most active ecosystem. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait are second to sixth in the list.
The UAE-based company Pure Harvest Smart Farms was first established in 2016 as a tech-based agricultural startup that produced a variety of vegetables and fruits in high-tech greenhouses. Pure Harvest Smart Farms started with one greenhouse in Abu Dhabi in March 2018; they have received $110 Million in total funding in 2020, which brought their total funding to $135.8 Million. They plan to expand their business to Kuwait as well as build three hybrid greenhouses in Saudi Arabia. With a team of highly innovative employees, this company plans to expand its sustainable greenhouses all over the Middle East.
The UAE-based company, Swvl was first founded in 2017 as a mass transit application startup. Swvl enables people to share buses in the same route as well as save up to 70% of the fare. Since 2017, they have expanded up to 600 lines of transport in Cairo and Alexandria and are now accessible in Kenya and Pakistan. Swvl received $42 million series B funding in 2019, which brought their total funding to $92 million. They plan to expand their services globally into countries that lack public transport.
Kitopi is a U.A.E.-based cloud kitchen platform company established in 2018. This platform operates 30 kitchens in the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, and Kuwait and partners with 120 restaurants in order to expand their delivery and help expand their business. They received $60 million in funding in 2020, which brought their total funding to $89 million. Kitopi plans to open 50 more kitchens across the USA as well as 100 globally.
SellAnyCar.com is an online marketplace for used cars in the Arab world founded in UAE in 2013. This company offers free valuation, professional car inspection, and fast buying services that allow their customers to sell and buy used cars. SellAnyCar.com raised $35 million funds in 2020, which brought their total to $50 million. They plan to open 100 branches in Saudi Arabia, creating an estimate of 300 jobs in the country.
Traveazy Group is an Online Muslim-friendly travel agency founded in 2013 based in the UAE. This company offers a variety of travel options, especially Muslim-friendly packages, to B2C and B2B customers. Traveazy Group operates under the two branches of “HolidayMe” and “UmrahMe.” UmrahMe is one of the three official companies to receive authorization from the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah to sell Umrah products to global travel agents. They have an estimate of two million travelers annually from across 75 countries through offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, and Singapore. Traveazy Group received a total of $40 million in funding.
The U.A.E.-based company, Bayzat was established in 2013. They provide digital health, car, and life insurance as well as online HR services for businesses, including payroll, employee benefits, and insurance benefits. They received a Series B funding round of $16 million in 2019, which brought their total funding to $31 million. Bayzat added additional features to their app, including free payroll processing, EarlyPay, Attendance, and Doctor Bookings, and plans on investing more in tech and customer experiences.
TruKKer was first founded in 2016 in the UAE as a Digital freight platform. This company provides truck services in more than 16 locations in 8 countries across the Middle East with more than 25000 trucks and 500+ clients. Saudi Arabia provides their biggest market. They received $23 million in a Series A funding round in 2019, which brought their total funding to $30 million. TruKKer launched its Pakistan and Jordan branch services in 2021.
Nana, an e-Grocery Marketplace platform, has been the biggest startup and the leading e-Grocery Marketplace in Saudi Arabia since its launch in 2016. Nana has tripled their turnover from 2019 to 2020 and operates in 14 cities across Saudi Arabia. They managed to raise $18 million in funding, which brought their total to $28.9 million. They plan to expand into more cities across the kingdom and deliver more monthly orders every month.
The Saudi Arabian company PayTabs was first established in 2014 as a Payments solutions company specializing in B2B payments. Their goal was to assist merchants in the MENA region in finding a secure online payments solution and has now expanded its transactions in 168 currencies across 49 industries. PayTabs received a $20 million funding in 2017, which brought its total to $26 million with the goal to expand across the MENA region, Southeast Asia, and several countries within Africa and Europe. They opened their Egypt branch in 2019 and plans to launch PayTabs Switch in 2021.
Halan is a two and three-wheeler ride-hailing and e-commerce app founded in 2017 in Egypt. Halan offers its services in Egypt and Sudan, and Ethiopia. Their services include fast-food delivery, an e-payment solution for bills, an e-commerce platform, and peer-to-peer delivery. They received $14 million in 2020, which brought their total to $23.5 million. Halan plans to become the leading Fintech App for the unbanked in Egypt and Africa.