Online business drives funding - investment round-up in March
Mita Srinivasan
What's the Deal

Online business drives funding - investment round-up in March

While deals in March have not been as prolific, there were still a few deals that were announced. We thought we’d share a few that we thought were interesting from the announcements made this month. Investors we spoke to say their due diligence is probably a bit more difficult and taking longer but their criteria for selecting start-ups or businesses to invest in is still the same.


The Saudi auto tech marketplace, Speero raises a six-figures USD deal for its pre-series A round from 500 Startups, Impact 46, and Derayah Ventures. The funding will allow the company to focus on simplifying its customer journey, and to continue to innovate in order to lead the space of online car parts & maintenance, remove the friction of its supply chain and the cost attached to it.

Speero offers an online marketplace for buying new and used automotive spare parts. Through its multiple partners and vendors, the platform helps individuals and workshops cut down their costs, explore their options, and save time by using the service with guaranteed fulfillment and delivery.


iMile, a Dubai-based last mile delivery company, plans to open a new research and development center in the region and expand its services across the Middle East after raising $10 million (Dh36.7m) in pre-Series A funding. The funding round was led by a China-based venture capital firm that specialises in the logistics industry and will help the start-up roll-out its services to Egypt, Kuwait and Morocco in its push for regional expansion. You can see more details here.


Sarwa raised more than US$ 8.4 million. This new round led by Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO), joined by leading investors such as Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Vision Ventures from Saudi, Hambro Perks from the UK, as well as Sarwa’s existing investors from previous rounds. This new round brings Sarwa’s total funding to over US$ 10 million since its inception in December 2017.

Sarwa is a privately owned investment advisory that offers customers the simplest and most cost-effective way to invest their earnings for long-term financial growth.


Abwaab, MENA’s latest online learning platform, today announces the closing of its $2.4M USD pre-seed funding round - one of the largest of its kind in the region. The round was kicked off by Adam Tech Ventures and joined by Endure Capital, Equitrust, the World Bank-backed Innovative Startups SMEs Fund (“ISSF”), a London-based investment fund, a number of former and current executives from Uber and Netflix, among others. The startup plans to use this funding to develop its product and grow its team.

The Jordanian-based edtech startup was founded in September 2019 by Hamdi Tabbaa, former General Manager of Uber for the GCC & Levant, and AI expert Hussein Alsarabi, former director of technology & product development at Its mission is to improve the out-of-school learning experience for Arabic-speaking youth by making high-quality education accessible to each and every student regardless of socioeconomic background.


Quant, a technical start-up specializing in data science and providing data analysis and artificial intelligence services, announced today that it has closed $1.2 million (SAR 4.5 million) in pre-series A funding. The funding round was led by Business Incubators and Accelerators Company, with the participation of a number of regional angel investors including Venturesouq.

This round will enable Quant to strengthen its operational capabilities, particularly in the fields of research and development, create data and artificial intelligence-based products and solutions, expand its presence in the Kingdom and enter new markets.

Al Waha fund of funds invests in Lumia Capital

Bahrain-based, Al Waha fund of funds has confirmed a "substantial" investment in San Francisco-based venture capital firm, Lumia Capital. The Lumia Capital Fund II, launched in June 2019, is aiming to raise $100-150 million.

The partnership between the two funds aims to support growth of Bahrain's entrepreneurship ecosystem and enable Bahraini startups to establish international relations with Lumia’s portfolio companies based outside of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).


Rise, a Dubai-based fintech startup focusing on democratizing access to essential financial services for the modest-income migrant population in the GCC, has raised a seven-digit investment. The fund raise was led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) in partnership with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Fintech Fund, 500 Startups, Khwarizmi Ventures and Phoenician Funds. With the secured funds, Rise will expand its team, further develop it financial products and services, and increase its footprint to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The Rise platform aims to bring its services to over a million migrants in the next two years and is targeting migrants from India, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The company is already in discussions with several financial institutions in over 10 countries and expects to include new partners and products to their portfolio soon.


ZON, the region's first fully decentralized mobile-only e-commerce network, has closed its seed funding round at an unprecedented US$8 million, making it the largest recorded single seed round in the UAE. The seed round was led by ASA Ventures and a consortium of private investors looking to support the disruption of the e-commerce sector in the region and beyond.

Set for launch in the second quarter of 2020, ZON is targeting more than 9.5 million smartphone users in the UAE. With the aim making virtually every product available 24/7, across all locations in the emirates, ZON has already signed up over 32,000 sellers and over 17 million SKUs registered on its platform. The ZON customer app is scheduled for launch in the second quarter of 2020.


Nana, one of Saudi Arabia’s fast-growing technology startups, has raised investment from regional investors Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) and Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP). Other investors in the round included existing investors Impact46, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), Watar Partners, and Wamda Capital.

Nana is an online grocery platform that currently serves 14 cities across the Kingdom. This round will enable Nana to expand in KSA and outside. It will allow the company to focus on further improving its customer experience and develop technology solutions to support their partner's growth and development.


Cartlow, an e-commerce startup that is pushing the "re-commerce" sector in the UAE, has secured an unspecified USD 6-figure amount in its first round of funding. Cartlow raised its funds from Arzan Venture Capital, Vision Ventures, and a group of angel investors. The UAE startup is one of the first ‘re-commerce’ apps in the region, filling a gap in the pre-owned market by providing a solution for both retailers and consumers while sustaining the environment. With this investment, Cartlow plans to enhance technology and focus on expansion to other GCC countries.

If you have a funding story to share with us, drop us a line with details to be included in next month’s round up.