Endeavor Catalyst – the $100M+ global co-investment fund of Endeavor – has made two new investments in companies with operations in Dubai, joining a $10M Series B round for comparison site Souqalmal.com, and a $6.5M Series A for Altibbi, a leading digital health platform headquartered in Jordan.
These new investments mark the ninth and tenth investments for Endeavor Catalyst in the MENA region, which is now one of the fastest-growing regions of investment for the Silicon Valley-based fund. Over the past two years, Endeavor Catalyst has invested in regional leaders such as Fetchr (UAE), Anghami (Lebanon), Mumzworld (UAE) and Vezeeta (Egypt), all of which were recently ranked by Forbes Middle East among the top ten startups in the Arab world.
According to Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg, there will be more – potentially much more – to come.
“We are thrilled to be investing with Jalil and his team at Altibbi, and Ambareen and the folks at Souqalmal,” Rottenberg said. “We see them as two great examples of a larger trend for the MENA region – where awesome founders are really starting to ‘think big’ in terms of what they can build.”
As Investors Set Their Sights on MENA, Entrepreneurs Look to Scale
The investments come on the heels of a recent trend of international players investing in the MENA region, including Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com and China’s Didi Chuxing’s investment in Careem.
“Instead of trying to do it on their own, they are starting to see that the talent is there, the infrastructure is there and that we’re attracting a lot of international players,” Souqalmal Founder and CEO Ambareen Musa observed.
Buoyed by Souqalmal’s rapid growth and increased regional investment, Musa aims to scale her company’s reach and impact within and outside of the region.
Souqalmal offers comparisons of 3,200 banking, insurance and education products in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The company plans to officially launch its car insurance comparison platform through a broker in Saudi Arabia in the next few months, after launching the category in the UAE last June and seeing 800% growth.
Altibbi Co-Founder, Jalil Allabadi, has likewise set his eyes on further expanding the company’s reach and impact.
Originally founded in Amman and currently headquartered in Dubai, Altibbi was selected into the Endeavor network via Endeavor Jordan in 2012. The company provides “connected health” services and solutions in ten markets across the Arab world, and has rapidly evolved into one of the most popular Arabic mobile applications on both iOS and Android platforms.
“The rapid growth of our company over the past years has clearly illustrated the ever-growing demand for innovative health solutions in our region, and we are delighted to witness first-hand how our products are solving real problems,” Allabadi said. “Altibbi is proud to provide cutting-edge, inclusive health services and looks forward to further strengthening these solutions by offering the best connected health solutions the region has seen to date.”
Huge Potential for Investment in MENA
Encouraged by the quality of entrepreneurs across the region – and the increasing quality of local co-investment partners in the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia – Rottenberg hopes Endeavor Catalyst will be even more active in the coming months.
“There are still several parts of the market that we feel have huge potential for investment – particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” noted Allen Taylor, Endeavor Catalyst Managing Director. “On the heels of the successful consumer-focused tech businesses like Souq.com, Careem, Anghami and Propertyfinder, I believe that there will very likely be a group of very big enterprise software, or ‘B2B’, businesses built in the region.”
Noting that Endeavor has seen a similar trend in large markets like Brazil and Turkey. Taylor highlighted Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic and UAE’s Arabia Weather as two examples of enterprise companies we will likely soon be hearing much more about.
“Education technology – and the overall distribution of knowledge (e.g. books, publishing, school systems) – are other areas that are ripe for disruption,” said Taylor, citing Lebanon’s Keeward (formerly Bookwitty), UAE-based on-demand book publisher Jamalon, and Saudi Arabia’s Classera as examples of a larger trend.