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MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA REGIONS


Holding all the cards: Fawry’s valuation surpassed $1bn in October this year


$10m in Cairo-based venture capital Algebra Venture. One of the Fawry co-founders, Mohamed Okasha, has now launched his own $25mfintech fund, called Disruptech. “Tech start-up accelerators now exist all


over Egypt,” says Tamer Azer, principal at Sawari Ventures, the Cairo-based venture capi- tal firm with plans to invest $70min tech com- panies in Egypt, Tunisia andMorocco. “There is now a core cluster of tech start-ups in Cairo — many [of which are] located in the Greek Campus and Maadi neighbourhoods.” He says a start-up to watch is MoneyFellows,


a Cairo-based fintech that has digitalised the concept of a rotating savings and credit associ- ation, and that raised $4m in a Series A round in June. Covid-19 has fuelled the demand for digital services across all business sectors and firms are responding to it by boosting their digital presence, innovating and thinking about new solutions. The AUC Venture Lab, part of the American


University in Cairo — one of Egypt’s top univer- sities — is a highly successful start-up incuba- tor. Since 2013, it has incubated around 210 start-ups and provided them with seed capital of around only $2000 each. These firms have proceeded to raise more than $100m from other investors. “We have graduated around 40 fintech


start-ups,” says Ayman Ismail, founding direc- tor of AUC Venture Lab. “These firms specialise in all areas of fintech, including digital pay-


ments and insurtech. In September this year, the financial authorities drafted a new lawreg- ulating the use of fintechin non-banking finan- cial activities. Once it is enacted, it will be an incredible boost to the sector.” Swvl Egypt, a bus vehicle for hire company


based in Cairo, is another company to watch, say local experts.Dubbed ‘Uber for buses’, users are able to book fixed-rate affordable rides on existing mini-bus routes through an app. The firm says it offers affordable, quality, conveni- ent and reliable bus rides. Founded in Cairo in April 2017 by Mostafa


Kandil, the company has expanded fast. It moved its headquarters from Cairo to Dubai in November 2019. It plans to debut its service in Indonesia, the Philippines and Bangladesh withinone year. It already operates in Pakistan’s major cities, including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Last year, it raised $42mfrominvestors in Sweden, Dubai and China to fund its expan- sion in Africa. In January this year, Uber also completed


the purchase of Careem, the Dubai-based vehi- cle for hire company with a big presence in the Egyptian market, for $3.1bn. Fawry has unique selling propositions that


have turned it into one of Egypt’s most success- fulcompanies in little over a decade. Today, the country has a highly dynamic tech ecosystem which is at the heart of innovation in Mena and is likely to produce further unicorns in the near future.■


December 2020/January 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com 93


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