The Saudi company Cloudshelf has secured Seed funding from SEEDRA Ventures and Angel Investors. Founded in 2021, the company specializes in operating a chain of micro-fulfillment dark stores enabling E-Commerce stores with all the operational solutions needed to operate in the Q-Commerce industry. The Q-Commerce Industry in MENA is expected to grow at an impressive CAGR of 17.0% YoY to reach to a value of USD 47b by 2030, driven by consumer behavior and emerging technologies.

The company aims to invest in the growth of its business and to complete the geographical expansion, research and development, and the development of new products and services for its customers, contributing to the growth in the sector.

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced the licensing of Lendo as they become the first company in Saudi Arabia to be granted the license of offering Debt crowdfunding for SMEs in Saudi Arabia. Lendo successfully ran through SAMA’s Regulatory Sandbox dedicated to innovative financial products and services within Saudi Arabia.

Throughout the last two years, Lendo has fulfilled the funding needs of SMEs of nearly SR 250mm and generating for investors returns of SR 8mm.

As part of its contribution to Saudi’s Vision 2030, SAMA aims to enhance the Kingdom’s financial stability and support economic development and growth. SAMA outlined that it is committed to supporting the sector of financing, enabling and encouraging innovation in financial services.

As one of the earliest backers for Lendo having invested in their Seed round and double down in their Series A, we saw the ambition and dedication of the team at Lendo have put to reach this key milestone.

Lucidya, the Saudi-based customer experience management platform, has today announced its second round of funding of $6 million led by Rua Growth Fund with participation from M.A.L Ventures and AlRashed Group, and other international Venture Capitals. Existing Lucidya investors also participated in the round, including Venture Souq.

Lucidya’s solution empowers organizations to understand and better serve their customers by analyzing interactions across different online channels in one platform. Powered by proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Arabic Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies, all captured interactions are deeply analyzed to extract insights that help businesses in making data-driven decisions.

This round comes after an outstanding performance by the B2B SaaS company, which managed to serve over 100 enterprise customers in more than 6 countries, fueling its annual recurring revenue (ARR) growth 5x year-over-year and making it among the top 10% fast-growing B2B SaaS companies globally, according to the industry’s benchmark.

The global market for marketing technology solutions (MarTech) is estimated to be worth $344.8bn in 2021, a figure which underlines the growth of the industry and the massive role that MarTech now plays in almost every organization. With such a growing market, the opportunity for Lucidya and its customers is undeniable.

While almost every business is exploring how they can use Customer Experience as a competitive advantage, very few are able to do so effectively today due to the lack of technologies that understands Arabic.

The fund will be used to expand the company’s product offering to provide a wider range of values to its customers.

Abdullah Asiri, founder and CEO at Lucidya said;“We are on a mission to revolutionize customer experience in the MENA region. We are leveraging our Arabic-tailored AI to bridge the gap between businesses and their customers and make customer voices heard loud and clear. Seeing that brands using Lucidya enjoyed an improvement of 200% in customer satisfaction, on average, indicates that we are on the right track but we are not there yet. This funding will enable us to expand our offering and bring it to more markets, enabling more businesses to reap the benefits of AI-powered Customer Experience Management.”“COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation and changed consumers’ behavior. Nowadays, most individuals interact with businesses through online channels (e-stores, social media, chat, emails, calls, etc.) and this trend is only expected to grow with time. This paradigm shift has resulted in an enormous and rapidly growing global customer demand for an omnichannel solution that leverages these interactions to improve customer retention. As a result, Lucidya is among the fastest-growing B2B SaaS companies in the world. Today, if any organization in Saudi Arabia wants to build a Customer Experience competitive advantage, Lucidya is essential. Soon this will be the case the MENA region too”.

Turki Aljoaib, Managing Partner at Rua Growth Fund said: “We at Rua Growth Fund believe that both, the Saudi market and the MENA region, have been underserved with technology solutions and services tailored to the local market. This has left significant gaps and opportunities for digitization that can only be successfully filled by local players who understand the needs of the market and know how to deliver value to their customers. Lucidya, which is based in Saudi Arabia, is a prime example of this. Having developed their technology in-house by and for Arabic speakers, they serve the needs of the global market while also demonstrating the Kingdom’s potential of innovative tech entrepreneurs, which promises to be a key part of accelerating the Kingdom’s growing leadership in MENA’s tech revolution.

Source: Zawya

Saudi TAAS (Team as a Service) platform Squadio, which specializes in Tech teams employment and management, announced their seed funding round with Riyadh-based SEEDRA Ventures.

Founded in 2019 in Riyadh, KSA, as an app development company Squadio (previously Ibtikar technologies) successfully pivoted its model to support the growing need of startups and companies seeking to hire and manage their own full time remotely through with engineers vetted by Squadio’s talent community. 

With a portfolio of over 100+ organizations varying from government entities to tech startups, the likes of : Monshaat, Sabbar, Morni, Resal, Sabq and more, Squadio helped endless businesses build and manage their tech teams remotely. The startup provides B2B solutions including vetting, hiring engineers, payroll services, plus the option of a product manager (CTO) per squad. 

Co-founder and CEO Khaled Senawy, said “We know how challenging it is to find and manage tech talents, in Squadio we helped 100-plus regionally businesses reduce their manpower expenses by over 40%, while building their teams who develop tech products, reducing their expenses by 40%.. We also built a talent community with +350 engineers working out of 5 countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and more. We plan to increase this number through our platform..

Our partnership with SEEDRA Venture exceeded the funding part, we won a great team working with us side by side to improve our model and open new doors for growth” 

Founding Partner & CEO at SEEDRA VENTURES, Haitham Alforaih said : “We see growing demand for remote engineering teams, and we’re confident that Squadio is well-positioned to provide start-ups with access to the best software engineers working on building great platforms” 

Squadio will use the fund as part of its strategy to improve the client experience, minimize employment time and develop the platform, and expand their client base. in addition to expand its talent community to more countries with more benefits for their talents.

Source: Wamda

Social trading platform Dawul has successfully raised $5 million in its latest funding round.

The seed round was led by RAED Ventures with participation from Impact46, SEEDRA Ventures, Derayah Venture, and Sukna Ventures, Magnitt reported.

This funding round puts the Riyadh-based fintech on the global trade map.

Saudi Arabia’s fintech funding rounds in 2021 raised unprecedented amounts of money, with more than 1,000 percent year-over-year growth.

“Our aim at Dawul is to build a global product with Saudi resources. We always welcome Saudi talent who want to prove themselves in the field of fintech and join our company,” co-founder of RAED Ventures, Talal Alasmari, said.

“There are enormous opportunities behind the concept of social trading which have not yet been applied in the region. We are pleased to be investing in the Dawul platform, which is the first to introduce this concept to the Saudi market through a safe and transparent platform, and with the support of the Capital Market Authority to raise awareness among investors.”

Dawul is planning to launch an educational “Japanese candlestick game,” with the aim of educating beginners, and enriching their knowledge of methods for analyzing market volatility and risks, by having them practice stock price predictions based on stock data and trends of previous sessions.

Source: Arab News

​In accordance to the Capital Market Law issued by Royal Decree No. (M/30) dated 02/06/1424H and its Implementing Regulations, the Capital Market Authority announces that Seedra Investment Company has completed the commencements of business requirements to conduct Managing Investments in the Securities Business licensed as per CMA resolution dated 12/10/1442H corresponding to 24/05/2021G.

Source: Capital Market Authority

Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) announced its investment in SEEDRA Ventures Fund.

This collaboration aims to focus on investing in early-stage startups, in addition to investing in a “Startup Studio” program, which contributes to deal flow creation of high-growth startups.

Source: Saudi Venture Capital Company

Logexa platform, closed its first investment round (Seed), led by SEEDRA ventures. The investment round aims to expand Logexa’s services and develop its platform, and the platform aspires to expand to other cities in Saudi Arabia.

Logexa was founded in 2020 by Husam Sendi and Husam Sabano, who have deep experiences in the fields of logistics and digital transformation.

The platform offers on-demand storage services for small and medium businesses that need flexible storage without long-term contracts or minimum storage sizes. Logexa has different storage options (dry, chilled, frozen) in multiple locations in the Kingdom including Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam. It serves its customers through its network of service providers that have complementary and wide options, and enables customers to manage inventory and place orders through the platform’s website.

Commenting on the round, Husam Sendi founder and CEO of Logexa, said: “We are part of this world, we live with its problems and challenges and we all share this responsibility. One of the most important challenges that Logexa contributes to achieving is providing effective digital storage solutions to its target customers, and it will continue until it achieve its goals with the best standards.”

Source: Jawlah

UAE-based media and entertainment tech company Starzly has raised an undisclosed amount in seed investment from SEEDRA Ventures, 500 Startups and existing investor Nama Ventures. 

Launched in August 2020 by Badr Kachibal, producer and songwriter RedOne and Mouhcine Kachibal, Starzly is a promising online marketplace that allows fans and businesses to hire celebrities to create personalised videos. It is making the impossible possible, helping fans and brands connect with the most influential celebrities, athletes, and content creators.

Having served as the Digital Technical/Creative Director for Al Arabiya, and MBC Group, CEO Badr is very familiar with the entertainment and entertaintech space in the region. 

“Starzly has become the first destination for personalised video messages in the region, currently used by over 1,000 celebrities and delivered tens of thousands of videos to more than 71 countries all around the world since its launch last year,” said Badr.

With a SaaS background, CTO Mouhcine worked at JustProperty that Property Finder acquired. Most recently, he led MarTech at Alshaya Group. 

“We are building a technology helping talents monetise their fan base while allowing fans to get a unique and a very authentic experience from their loved personalities. Our focus always is to offer customers, celebrities and businesses the best experience in a very safe and moderated environment,” said Mouhcine.

An international celebrity himself, co-founder RedOne is a globally renowned producer and songwriter who has won three Grammys and was nominated for ten. He is one of the most successful and sought-after record producers and songwriters in the world, with more than 70 international hit singles, including stars such as Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, and Enrique Iglesias.

Since its launch, Starzly has become a market leader as the largest platform with over 1,000 celebrities from the Mena region and across the globe and more than 200,000 users, delivering countless magical moments and happiness. It has also helped 500+ businesses, from SMEs to large companies. Built to offer a unique and authentic experience, Starzly has attracted over a thousand Arab and international celebrities, including Saad Lamjarred, Bassem Youssef, and Enrique Arce, whom fans can request personalised video messages. These include video calls, audio messages, and direct text messages.

Source: Wamda

Tamara, the leading Saudi Buy-Now-Pay-Later platform announced the closing of the largest Series A funding round in MENA of $110 million led by The investment will help Tamara expedite its expansion across the GCC by the end of 2021 and the greater region thereafter.

Founded in 2020, by serial entrepreneur Abdulmajeed Alsukhan and his partners Turki Bin Zarah and Abdulmohsen Albabtain, Tamara was the first BNPL firm to be enrolled in the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA)’s Sandbox program. Since then, it closed a round of $6 million in seed funding in January 2021 which was also considered the largest seed round in Saudi Arabia, 5 months after its official launch in September 2020.

The startups has quickly established itself as a market-leader in Saudi and successfully landed some of the most popular brands in Saudi such as SACO, Whites, Nejree and Nice One. The company also expanded its services to UAE with prominent partners like Namshi and Floward. Tamara was also able to launch its mobile consumer app along with its in-store service with multiple local partners. The $110M cash injection (debt & equity) will be used by the Company to scale its team, open new countries in the GCC and fund the distribution of its BNPL product.

Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Tamara’s Co-founder & CEO said: “Tamara was born to make a change. The region and the world need payment solutions that are transparent and customer-oriented. At Tamara, we offer our customers an alternative to credit cards and Cash on Delivery (COD), which enhances their shopping experience. Our solution also increases our merchant partners’ efficiency as well as their customer satisfaction. This transaction is only the beginning of our journey, and a great sign that we are on the right track. We are proud to have the trust of such an investor and we will continue expanding our products to transform the payments industry in the region.”

Sebastian Reis, Executive Vice President at said: “As the partner of choice for the region’s leading eCommerce merchants, is always on the lookout for ways to enhance the ecosystem. Tamara has rapidly proven itself to be a natural leader in the BNPL space. Our investment in Tamara will help the team realise their vision and expand rapidly, driving greater conversions for retailers and offer more flexibility for consumers.”

Visa estimates that the eCommerce sector in the MENA region will be valued at $49 billion by as soon as 2022. Tamara is well-positioned to tap the rapidly growing Buy Now Pay Later segment in MENA. Its Shariah-compliant offering is used by merchants to increase sales revenue, whilst serving as a credible alternative to cash on delivery (COD). The solution is accessible via direct API integration or plugins and offers consumers new ways to pay online – either splitting balances over three payments or paying 30 days later.


Dailymealz, a Riyadh-based food subscription app aimed at corporate employees has raised $2 million in Pre-Series A round led by Seedra Ventures. The round was also joined by some angel investors.

Founded in late 2017 by Mohamed Elzalabany, Abdulrahman Ahmed, Abdallah Said, and Motaz AbuOnq, Dailymealz enables individuals to order food using weekly and monthly subscriptions (through its app for iOS and Android) – starting from SAR 138 (about $37) per week. The users can choose different types of subscriptions including healthy, diet, Keto, and fast food, and create their customized plans, in a few taps, to receive the food in their office (or at their home) without having to place an order every time they need it.

Most of Dailymealz’s plans are for lunch only that’s delivered on working days as it’s focused on corporates but they also feature options like full day Keto and diet that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and cover the weekends as well. The service is currently available in different cities of Saudi and Kuwait and serves thousands of customers. DailyMelaz has delivered over a million meals to date.

The Saudi startup partners with different restaurants and cloud kitchens to offer their food as part of its meal plans. The food is delivered by its own network of freelance drivers. Dailymealz has built in-house tech to ensure maximum utilization of drivers who deliver multiple orders in every trip. The grouped deliveries result in much better economics for Dailymealz when compared with traditional food delivery players who offer on-demand delivery.

With the fresh funds, the Saudi startup is now eying expansion into different regional markets, starting with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Dailymealz has recently launched a new product for corporates that enables employers (through their HR departments) to offer meals to their employees as a perk or at subsidized rates, and place group orders (for meetings and events), its co-founder and CEO Mohamed Elzalabany told MENAbytes. How it works is that the employers partner with Dailymealz and then anyone from their company can subscribe to the meal plans offered by the startup and the payments are handled by the employer. The employer then deducts whatever part an employee is supposed to pay from their salary at the end of the month.

A large part of the funds will be used to support Dailymealz’s growth efforts including further expansion into offerings for corporates.


Noon Academy, a Saudi-based EdTech Startup with over 400,000 users in Pakistan, has entered into a Letter of Understanding with the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training (MoFEPT) for the provision of Digital Education in Pakistan.

The LoU was signed at a ceremony held at the Federal Education Ministry in Islamabad.

As per the understanding, Noon Academy, as a global e-learning platform, will use its expertise in technology to develop high-quality content for the MoFEPT. MoFEPT will make the content accessible to students across Pakistan for free. The content will include recorded lectures, past paper review sessions, doubt clearing sessions, and much more.

The content will be promoted through print, social and digital media, including the global award-winning Noon Academy app.

Speaking at the occasion, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, Waseem Ajmal Chaudhary appreciated the efforts of Noon Academy and emphasized the positive impact of the private sector in the education space.

Umair Babar Chishti, Country Manager Pakistan, Noon Academy, said “Noon Academy has entered Pakistan with the vision to provide learning opportunities to everyone, and through our platform, we want to make the best teachers in Pakistan affordable, accessible and available for all students in Pakistan and help them achieve their goals in life”.

Noon Academy will assist the MoFEPT in developing the concept of Tele-school on the PTV to provide learning opportunities in all provinces of Pakistan while maintaining standards and overcoming the language barriers.


Saudi Arabia-based e-commerce enablement platform Zid, has raised $7 million (SAR 26 million) in a Series A funding round, led by Global Ventures alongside existing investors Elm and Arzan VC.

Founded in 2017, Zid helps retailers build their own online stores and then integrates them with the supply chain and third-party logistics companies.

Over the past two years, Zid’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) has grown 10x. Its merchant network now boasts more than5,300 stores across 14 different categories.

“Zid has transformed from a single product to a company providing a rich-toolbox and variety solutions helping our customers and improving the e-commerce ecosystem. This achievement is due to the hard work and dedication of our stellar team, capable of achieving any goal,” said Sultan AlAsmi, co-founder and CEO of Zid.

Zid will use the new funds to grow its footprint, expand to other retail verticals, attract talent, and automate more tools to improve the e-commerce experience for its customers.

“We enable merchants on Zid’s platform to achieve their business goals through seamlessly tracking their sales and operations and working diligently on innovative solutions for the challenges facing the sector in Saudi Arabia and the region. We look forward to expanding Zid outside Saudi Arabia, and to bring to new markets our values that deliver a meaningful impact by building and enabling effective communities,” said Mazen AlDarrab, Zid’s co-founder and chief growth officer.

In Q3 2020, Zid launched Zid Ship, a shipping management solution connecting logistics providers directly with merchants. The platform currently includes more than 20 service providers.

Noor Sweid, founder and general partner of Global Ventures said: “We are confident Zid’s team, and its ambition, will make them one of our highest performing portfolio companies. Zid is a vital building block for the future of the industry through its innovative retail and fintech solutions, as well as a gig and community development.”


Riyadh-based fintech Lendo has raised $7.2 million in a Series A round led by Saudi’s Derayah Ventures, it announced in a statement today to MENAbytes. The equity-only round also includes participation of Seedra Ventures, Shorooq Partners, 500 Startups, and Impact46.

Founded in 2019 by Osama AlRaee and Mohammad Jawabri, Lendo offers instant invoice financing to SMEs through its Shariah-complaint lending marketplace. The offering helps SMEs with their immediate cash requirements. Invoice financing is a popular short-term borrowing tool for businesses in different markets around the world where they use their receivables to get loans from banks (or other financial institutions) but there are hardly any banks that offer it in the region.

Lendo offers loans starting from SAR 100,000 (about $27,000) and going up to SAR 3 million ($800,000) by connecting the SMEs with investors on its marketplace through crowdlending (aka peer-to-peer lending). The SMEs looking for financing can apply on Lendo’s platform if they have a valid Saudi business license (commercial registration), have been in operations for at least one year, and have an annual turnover of SAR 2 million ($530,000) at least.

The startup takes up to three days to review the profile after receiving all the required details and documentation. If approved, the business can apply for financing of up to 80 percent of the invoice value sold to the customer. These opportunities are then shared on Lendo’s platform with the investors who finance them collectively.  Lendo claims that on average it takes about half an hour for an opportunity on its platform to close (i.e. raise the money needed).

The investments start from SAR 1,000 (about $270) and can be made by any Saudi citizen or resident over the age of 18 who has a valid ID and a bank account. The expected annual profits range from 9 to 24 percent depending on the risk profile of the SME. All the opportunities listed on Lendo receive a risk rating based on its credit history, financial position, owners’ personal credit history and experience, and invoice strength.

“We provide solutions to two major pain points in the SME finance market. First, the limited options for SME businesses to borrow cash quickly and easily and second, the limited short-term options that offer higher returns for investors/lenders,” said the startup in a statement.

Lendo makes money by charging the SMEs with a management fee and taking a 20 percent cut from the profit investors make.

Launched just last year, Lendo claims to have financed over 100 invoices worth over SAR 60 million for SMEs and given more than SAR 3 million in profits to its investors. Its co-founder and CEO Osama AlRaee told MENAbytes that they currently have a default rate of zero.

In a statement, commenting on the occasion, he said, “We are proud to be backed by leading investors who have excellent knowledge and experience in the most rapidly maturing MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem. Aside from the financial support and expert advice from the pioneers in the market, their trust in our business model will help us achieve both our short term and long-term goals and scale our business to the next level.”

“The additional investment helped us create more opportunities for Lendo to finance businesses during the challenging economic climate brought about by Covid-19. Our strategy is to provide access to low-profit rate financing to SMEs and help funders receive better returns. Our alternative form of financing has proven to be faster in getting the needed cash flow and has become an essential part of the recovery strategies for many of our customers/clients. We are proud to be the preferred platform of choice for SMEs lending and borrowing in Saudi Arabia and look forward to being pioneers in the wider MENA region,” he added.

Mohammad Jawabri, the co-founder and COO of Lendo, said, “As a team of fintech experts, we combine financial expertise with advanced technology to bring our clients solutions that can turn waiting time into a valuable win-win situation for all parties involved. During the pandemic, there was a huge surge in the numbers of SMEs who turned to Lendo for financing to keep their businesses afloat. Our 25% month-on-month growth is a testimony of the hard work, dedication, and commitment of our team.”

The startup, for now, is looking to expand into Saudi to serve Jeddah and Eastern Region before it launches in other parts of the region. It is also looking to introduce new products to help SMEs raise working capital. The SME lending landscape in Saudi also includes players like Raqamyah (which raised $2.3 million just last month – and interestingly the round was led by Impact46, a firm that has also participated in Lendo’s funding round), Forus, and Dubai-headquartered Beehive. Lendo is one of the many lending startups that are part of Saudi Central Bank’s regulatory sandbox.

Faris Alrashed from Derayah Ventures, said, “The Lendo team has built a remarkable company which is evidenced by their performance especially during the initial months of Covid-19. Lendo is a powerful solution in the industry and its offering is well-timed with the rapidly increasing demand for financing solutions in the dynamic SME lending arena. We firmly believe in the founders and their unparalleled focus on execution, user experience, and scale.”

Shane Shin, the Founding Partner of Shorooq Partners, said, “As the only new investor to join Lendo’s journey, we are humbled and excited to work closely with Osama, Mohammed and the Lendo team to propel their growth within Saudi as they become the dominant regional player.”


Saudi Arabian exhibition chain Muvi Cinemas has forged a strategic partnership with local digital media studio Telfaz11, under which they will take an undisclosed stake in the expanding Saudi outfit that recently inked an eight-picture deal with Netflix.

The partnership will see Muvi and Telfaz11 join forces to produce Arabic feature films for theatrical release, as well as other types of collaborations.

Founded by Alaa Yousef Fadan, Ali Al Kalthami, and Ibrahim Al Khairallah, Telfaz11 is an innovative content company that started out in the YouTube space where it has scored billions of views with side-splitting socially engaged videos including their groundbreaking “No Woman, No Drive” video in 2013, which helped create momentum to change laws that previously forbade women from driving motor vehicles in the country.

Muvi Cinemas is Saudi Arabia’s first local cinema chain and currently operates 10 multiplexes in six cities, including a state-of-the-art 18-screener in the port city of Dharan, a major oil industry hub, for a current total of 103 screens. They plan to expand their reach to more than 600 screens in more Saudi cities by 2025.

In a joint statement, the two companies pointed to their synergy as nascent Saudi “movie-industry leaders” to encourage local content creation through a film fund that could finance Telfaz11-produced feature films for release in Saudi theaters. They also said a key component of their partnership will be marketing.

“The companies will collaborate on each other’s social media and digital platforms in a vertical marketing alliance, with Telfaz11 offering Muvi access to its creative marketing services, as well as its network of over 28 million subscribers and followers,” they said.

“We are extremely excited with this strategic partnership with Telfaz11,” Muvi Cinemas CEO Sultan Alhokair said in the statement.

“The need for a strong local-language film market with theatrical window has never been stronger with the annual [Saudi] box office projected to exceed $1 billion annually by 2030,” he added.

Alhokair went on to note that Telfaz11 is well placed to be a local market leader since the Saudi Arabian movie market “is similar to those of France, Italy and Germany,” in that local-language content accounts for a significant share annual box-office revenue.

“Saudi Arabia is making tremendous advancements within the entertainment community, both with what we produce and how we reach audiences,” said Telfaz11 CEO Alaa Fadan. “It has long been our goal to ensure all Saudis get to experience the magic of movies in theaters, and this deal with our friends at Muvi only furthers Telfaz11’s mandate to have a hand in our country’s cultural growth in the film and media business.”

In January, Muvi forged a partnership with Middle East indie film distributor Front Row Film Entertainment to launch distribution and exhibition company Front Row Arabia, which will be releasing English, Arabic, Japanese anime and alternative content across Saudi.


Saudi financial technology (fintech) company Lendo was chosen among ten startups to join Google’s first accelerator in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Riyadh-based startup is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers instant short-term finance-against-invoice solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Google for Startups Accelerator MENA program chose 10 startups out of around 500 applications from six Arab countries, including the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Four out of the chosen companies are led by women.

Starting this week, the startups will receive mentorship in digital marketing, product design/UX, Machine Learning, customer acquisition, and leadership development.

In response to the large interest the program has received, Google will launch its second cohort of the three-month online program later this year and offer free workshops to all the startups. Three startups were chosen from the UAE, virtual events platform 360VUZ, children’s educational and entertainment platform Lamsa and web-based 3D and augmented reality shopping and empowerment tool Designhubz.

Another three where chosen from Jordan — secondary school education support platform Abwaab, family care services market Careres, and artificial intelligence-powered travel experience platform Viavii.

Making up the final 10 were chronic patients’ medication manager app Chefaa from Egypt, fashion marketplace platform Dabchy from Tunisia and, finally, meditation app Nsfas from Oman.


Netflix, the global entertainment service, and Saudi Arabian production and financing group Telfaz11 have struck a partnership to produce eight new films, with the first project coming to life in late 2021.

This partnership comes after the success of Telfaz11 and Netflix’s award-winning film collection collaboration, Six Windows in the Desert.

Now, Netflix said it is investing in Telfaz11’s creativity and ingenuity to build stories that truly reflect the region’s rich, cinematic culture on screen.

The partnership entails the production of a mixed range of eight new films, developed and produced by Telfaz11 and aiming for broad appeal across both Arab and global audiences.

“Great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere. We are expanding our library of Saudi content and showcasing the beauty of Saudi storytelling by joining forces with its creators to produce authentic and intriguing stories that will resonate with both Arab and global audiences. We hope that Telfaz’s work will offer Netflix members around the world a chance to experience Saudi culture, humour and art,” said Nuha El Tayeb, director, Content Acquisitions, MENAT at Netflix. 

Founded by Alaa Yousef Fadan, Ali Al Kalthami, and Ibrahim Al Khairallah, Telfaz11 aims to meet Saudi Arabia’s and the wider region’s strong appetite for creative expression.

Khairallah was among the four comedians representing the Arab world in Netflix’s Comedians of the World – a first of its kind global production bringing together 47 comedians from 13 regions in an unprecedented stand-up comedy event series.

Kalthami’s creative career spans nine years, having written, directed, and produced several films, including Wasati, which is streaming on Netflix globally as part of the Six Windows in the Desert collection.

Telfaz11 CEO and co-founder Alaa Fadan said: “We are thrilled to partner with Netflix in an important validation of both our success at Telfaz11 and the region’s burgeoning production ecosystem. These eight films will showcase for global audiences the incredible culture, locations and talent that exists within both our region and the Telfaz11 filmmaker network.”

The films will be available to 195 million Netflix members worldwide.


Riyadh-headquartered global edtech Noon Academy has expanded to Pakistan with the launch of its social learning platform. The launch was announced by Noon Academy’s co-founder Aziz Alsaeed in a MENAbytes Live session on Wednesday. This comes less than a month after Noon Academy’s launch in India.

The platform that has raised over $21 million to date from some leading investors of the region including STV and Raed Ventures, acts as a curated marketplace of teachers, enabling them to schedule and conduct live classes, competitions, and polls and quizzes. They can create public or private groups and invite students to become a part of them. The teachers can also assign students with homework, monitor their performance, and communicate with them, using it.

Noon Academy is starting in Pakistan with classes and groups for 9th to 12th grade (which is locally known as matric and intermediate) for different boards, and O, A-Levels (Cambridge). The platform can be used by the students of these grades as an alternative to offline tuitions for different subjects.

It has already onboarded tens of teachers of the country and is using a freemium model – which means that some content for the students will be available for free and some would require them to pay.

The startup has hired former McKinsey consultant Umair Chishti, who has previously also worked with a local food delivery startup Eat Mubarak, to lead Pakistan. It is also in the process of hiring for different other positions based out of Lahore.

Noon Academy has over 7 million registered students on its platform in Saudi, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, India, and Pakistan.


Riyadh-headquartered edtech Noon Academy has launched its social learning platform in India. The launch comes a few months after the Saudi startup appointed Abhishek Mittal who was previously the Vice President for Business with one of India’s leading edtech Unacademy, to lead the Indian market for it.

The launch in India was announced by Abhishek in a LinkedIn post, “After months of experimentations and developing our platform, I am much excited to announce the start of our journey in India. Noon Academy brings to you a peer-to-peer learning experience like never before, aimed at improving academic outcomes for students. I invite students and teachers to experience the various social learning features of Noon Academy platform,” noted the post.

Noon Academy has had an engineering office in India for years but with this launch, it has become clear that the startup also has its eyes set on the multi-billion opportunity that the Indian edtech market offers.

The social learning platform enables teachers to schedule and conduct live classes, competitions, and polls and quizzes. The teachers can create public or private groups and invite students to become a part of them. In addition to conducting live classes for these groups, the teachers can also create homework assignments, monitor the performance of their students, and communicate with them.

The classes available on the platform in India are from preparatory to high school. The platform apparently for now is completely free for both teachers and students.

India is home to some of the biggest edtechs in the world including Byju’s that has become a decacorn after a $100 million investment from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital earlier this year. It is not immediately clear how Noon Academy plans to compete with the giants in India but the move does say a lot about ambitions of the Saudi startup that had started in Riyadh in 2013 and has grown to serve over 5 million students in different markets.

Noon Academy had raised $13 million in a pre-Series B round just two months ago. At the time, it had said that it will be using the funds to accelerate its global expansion. It has recently appointed a global edtech leader Bilal Musharraf to lead the expansion efforts.

Saudi office lunch delivery startup Dailymealz that has been offering subscription-based lunch delivery service to employees at different companies in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province in Saudi, has partnered with the local retail giant Panda to launch a grocery delivery service, it told MENAbytes today.

The Riyadh-based startup has also been delivering food to homes (for about two weeks) of its subscribers and new customers as most of the employees at both private companies and government organizations have been working from their homes.

But as the demand for online groceries has grown exponentially during the last few weeks (due to curfew as people are restricted to their homes most of the day), Dailymealz has now partnered with Panda to sell grocery baskets and deliver them. They’ve started this in Riyadh but are looking to potentially expand it into other cities.

We had reported last week that grocery startups all around the region are witnessing a big surge in online orders as people everywhere are staying indoors due to Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The groceries available on Dailymealz are available in the form of two pre-made baskets with different products. The basket of groceries, Dailymealz says, has products that fulfill the grocery needs of an average household for two weeks. The basket which has more than 20 products in it including rice and flour, is priced at SAR 299 ($80) which also includes the delivery charges. And the basket of fruits and vegetables is priced at SAR 119 ($32).

The startup is also planning to expand into the ready-to-cook meals.

Dailymealz is currently offering next-day-delivery for the grocery orders. The startup has its own fleet of freelancers who deliver lunch meals to its customers. It is now using the same fleet for grocery deliveries.

Mohamed Al Zalabany, the co-founder and CEO of Dailymealz, speaking to MENAbytes, said, “We’re trying to help people stay home by partnering with Panda to use our tech and logistics to deliver groceries to a broader customer base.”

He explained that the expansion into groceries is temporary for now but they will assess the option of potentially permanently expanding into subscription-based grocery delivery, adding that the focus will always be to provide lunch to offices.

Mohamed also pointed out that adding groceries to their business (even if it is temporary) also means more deliveries and additional income for their partner (driver) network.

Panda and other big grocery retailers in Saudi have partnered with different other last-mile delivery companies too, to deliver groceries on their behalf.

Zid, a Riyadh-based Shopify-like ecommerce management startup that helps people (and businesses) setup their online stores has raised $2 million Pre-Series A, the startup announced yesterday. The round was led by VC arm of Elm, a leading Saudi technology company, and joined by China’s MSA Capital, Kuwait’s Arzan VC and some angel investors.

Founded in 2017 by Mazen AlDarrab, a serial entrepreneur who has previously founded and led different companies, and Sultan AlAsmi, Zid enables people to create their online stores and manage them without having any technical knowledge through Zid’s web or mobile apps. The ecommerce-in-a-box solution also comes with services (at discounted prices) including delivery and payments from over 20 partners that can be integrated into any store in a plug-and-play manner.

The store owners, according to Zid’s website, also receive access to special prices for product photography, packaging, logistics, design, marketing, and even shared workspace.

The startup follows a freemium subscription model, enabling, people to setup their online stores for free with basic functionality and up to 100 products. The subscriptions start from SAR 100 (USD 27) per month and go up to SAR 400 (USD107) per month, allowing people to have unlimited products in their stores.

Zid, through its Academy initiative, also educates its users on different ecommerce related topics to make it easy for them to run and manage their online businesses. Zid Academy offers education in the form of online courses, offline meetups and mentorship sessions.

According to its website, Zid currently has over 1200 active retailers using its services. The startup claims to have witnessed five-fold year-on-year growth in the number of orders processed by the online stores they host and support, with sales valued at over SAR 140 million (USD 37.3 million).

Mazen AlDarrab, Zid’s founder, commenting on the occasion, said, “We are witnessing daily growth in the e-commerce industry, not only in Saudi but in the [entire] region. We started Zid with a very simple mission: to enable retailers to capture the opportunity in e-commerce and provide them the whole experience in a box.”

Sultan AlAsmi, Zid’s co-founder and CEO, said, “At Zid we aim to redefine the retail sector with the power of digital solutions. We firmly believe that the retail sector in the region needs disruption. Given the company’s growth, 5x annually, along with the significant growth in e-commerce adoption we’re witnessing, places us in a unique position to lead this transformation.”

The startup that currently employs a team of 15 plans to use the investment to attract new segments in the retail industry and expand into new geographical markets.

It is the third regional startup in this space to have raised an investment within the last fourteen months. Salla, a similar Saudi startup had raised an undisclosed amount of investment in May last year and Ecomz, a Lebanese Shopify-like startup had raised $4 million Series A earlier this month.