October-November MENA startups that attracted millions- Part 4 of 4  

Participation from international investors in UAE-based startups peaked to an all-time high in 2021 by the end of Q3. Jakarta’s venture capital investor Willson Cuaca was in the UAE taking a serious look at the UAE startup ecosystem. The co-founder and managing partner of East Ventures said: “The UAE startup ecosystem is a frontrunner in the region and the diversity on display is reflected in the sectors that do well in the country.”  

“The demographic and socio-economic constitution also makes it a strong test-bed for startups that are looking to scale into other similar markets in the region.”

Here’s a look at some of the UAE’s and other regional startup players receiving seed funding.

1- Chari- Casablanca

Moroccan B2B e-commerce and fintech startup Chari has raised a $5 million seed round whic

h values the company at $70 mn and sets it up for expansion into French-speaking Africa.

Chari.ma allows traditional proximity store owners in Morocco to order products and have them delivered. It works with more than 50% of the proximity stores in Casablanca, and recently announced the acquisition of mobile credit book application Karny.ma as it aims to offer more services to its users.

Chari also plans to embed financial services such as digital payment, money transfer, and BNPL within its product roadmap.

2- Colexion- Sharjah

Colexion raised funds of about $50 million from Polygon, an Ethereum scaling and digital foundation. Colexion is an NFT trading and community stage that was launched on September 10, 2021.

The new funds will be used for marketing, technology, and community interaction. After launching its digital collectibles, Colexion plans to launch a crypto token in the near future. It features NFT possessions of stars from the sports, entertainment, and art industry.  

Sample Colexion NFTs

Colexion clients can buy, sell and trade NFTs of their favorite celebrities. To make the payment process convenient and easy, Colexion accepts the general way of payment by credit cards.   

Global sports stars are the base partners for the initial launch of Colexion and it also features stars from various industries of entertainment and art.

3- Foodlink- India- UAE

Foodlink, a market leader in the luxury catering and banqueting space in India and UAE, has raised $8 mn in its Series B funding round.

It will use these funds to expand its flagship business of luxury catering across newer geographies overseas, to take its luxury banquet brand called JADE Luxury Banquets to newer destinations, and to scale their casual dining restaurant business through its brands India Bistro, China Bistro & Art of Dum in UAE and India. 

The company has so far raised $23 mn including the current round. It received $15 mn as part of its Series A round in 2017.

Foodlink Banqueting and Catering provides exclusively crafted culinary experiences from all around the world through curating F&B experiences at weddings, corporate events, and everything in between including destination events in exotic locations in Europe, the Middle East, USA, and Asia Pacific. It is patronized by some of the wealthiest and most respected families and business houses in India and overseas. 

Foodlink has invested heavily in world-class infrastructure with over 50000 sqft of kitchen space and over 35000 sqft of warehouse space.  

The UAE foodservice market too is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 5.22% by 2026 due to increasing disposable income, rising tourist arrivals, increasing urban lifestyles, and evolving consumer preferences. 

4- BLOOM- Amman

The female-led Jordan-based try before you buy (TBYB) e-commerce platform BLOOM has raised its first angel investment,  only two months after graduating from the renowned Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-Seed accelerator.

BLOOM successfully bridges the gap between physical and online shopping through its online platform, allowing customers to try on the clothes they have ordered online in the comfort of their own homes before having to pay for them, while also offering the option of easily returning the items they do not like with a click of a button. The wide variety of items on BLOOM’s e-commerce platform is all from a carefully curated list of original international brand outlets.

BLOOM has also won a $20,000 grant during the Queen Rania Award for Entrepreneurship.

Bloom offers solutions to the existing challenges of reverse logistics, which negatively impact operations and burden the purchasing experience with inconvenient obstacles. The flexibility of the TBYB model allows customers to try on multiple items with a variety of sizes and colors before buying them without extra fees, which in return ensures higher levels of customer satisfaction, decreases return rates, while also decreasing the negative environmental impact of material waste due to the piling up of unwanted items at the back of customer’s closets.

Launching its full operations in November of this year, BLOOM is also planning to go regional and expand in bigger markets in the upcoming years. 

5- FACEKI- Manama

FACEKI, a digital biometrics platform that simplifies users’ journeys and fights fraud, announced it has raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed funding round.

The push for digitization has led to an unprecedented level of identity theft and account takeovers. FACEKI Biometric Facial Recognition and Identity Verification platform help organizations verify and onboard their users, especially in terms of fighting fraud.  

FACEKI was founded in March 2020 and won the gold award as The Most Innovative Technology Startup in MENA as well as winning The Best Facial Recognition Authentication Platform in the Middle East.

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