Saudi Arabia broke its record in the number of investment deals and funding Saudi-based startups witnessed in 2019. Not only did the startups gain $60 million in funding since 2015, but also saw a 35 percent increase since 2018, placing the total startup funding at $67 million.
According to MAGNiTT's most recent report, "2019 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Snapshot," the number of startup investments totaled 71, amounting to a 92-percent growth since 2018's total of 37 deals. This quick and sudden rise in investment and funding has pushed the kingdom up the ranks among the MENA region's countries, placing it third after the UAE and Egypt, respectively.
"Usually, these initiatives take time to come to fruition, but we have already seen their impact on the ecosystem in the country and the wider MENA region," stated MAGNiTT's founder & CEO Philip Bahoshy.
However, due to the focus of the Saudi government on innovation and entrepreneurship throughout 2018 and 2019 as part of its Vision 2030, the kingdom became one of the MENA region's fastest-growing startups and venture capital investment ecosystems.
Saudi-based startups also hit their all-time high in terms of institute investors in 2019. There was a total of 41 institutions that funded startups in the kingdom, a third of which were international-based. This amount was in fact higher than the total average across the MENA region.
In 2019, a total of 565 startup investments were made across the MENA and valued at $704 million. Out of the total number of investors, 48 were Saudi Arabian, making them the most active investors of the bunch.
The entire region saw a number of deals and funding directed at startups last year. Institutions alone represented 25 percent of the total investments made in the region. However, governments were not exempt from financially backing startups.
"Many governments in the region have been playing an active role in growing ecosystems conducive to entrepreneurs, including technical and financial support programmes and policy reforms," senior private sector specialist at the World Bank Ali Abu Kumail said.
Saudi Arabia has contributed to its strong startup growth through accelerator programs such as the Misk 500 MENA Accelerator and Misk Growth Accelerator, established by Misk Innovation, some of the most active investment promoters in the kingdom during last year. In fact, accelerators accounted for 32 percent of the entirety of the investments put into Saudi-based startups.