The UAE’s startup ecosystem is becoming an oasis for retail-related startups in the region, with an increasing number of versatile homegrown SMEs recently getting a lion’s share of the regional funding.
According to the World Investment Report 2022, the UAE ranked first in the Arab world and 19th globally in FDI inflows and attracted $20.7 billion in FDI two years ago.
CEO and founder of Tabby—the BNPL fintech that recently secured $58 million in a series C funding round from international investors—Hosam Arab, told Arab News:“We’re excited to grow with an incredible set of investors who believe in the opportunity to create a healthier relationship with money for consumers.
“We’re excited to grow with an incredible set of investors who believe in the opportunity to create a healthier relationship with money for consumers in a region that’s ripe for change.”
Speed is currency
Last-mile deliveries are gaining traction in the start-up segment with giants like Amazon, Walmart, Uber and Netflix fuelling the emergence of modern ‘On-Demand’ economy where satisfaction, fulfilment, and, ultimately, convenience are key pillars.
One Moto start-up is a testament to the auspicious potential of the last-mile delivery segment. Recently securing $150 million from an undisclosed investor to scale its operations in the UK, the company strives to become a leading platform for electric vehicles dealing with last-mile deliveries, with operations in China, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Nepal.
CEO of One Moto, Adam Ridgawy, said: “With the support of the finance deal, we expect to deploy up to 30,000 vehicles across the UK in H1 2023. This harnesses our conversations with UK Trade & Investment to open the first European assembly plant.”
This demand for instantaneity and the drive to stay ahead of the technology curve is also reflected in the persistent appeal of B2B businesses. UAE spend management platform for Middle Eastern businesses Alaan which recently raised $4.5 million for regional expansion is a case in point.
This platform, founded three years ago, allows businesses to instantly issue physical and virtual cards for monitoring all their business expenses, covering e-commerce transactions, SaaS subscriptions, vendor payments, government services as well as in-store purchases. By automating bookkeeping tasks via integration with accounting solution providers like Xero, QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics, the platform eliminates the need for expense reports.
CEO and co-founder of Alaan, Parthi Duraisamy, said: “With the new funds, we are excited to further enhance our offering and expand our reach in new markets as we continue to help businesses improve their efficiency, productivity and employee experience through Alaan.”
As the metaverse is on the verge of going mainstream, ambitious retail-oriented startups are jumping on the bandwagon to woo Gen-Z consumers.
For instance, metaverse startup Numi recently grabbed $20 million in funding from Venom Ventures Fund, a $1 billion venture capital fund targeting blockchain and Web3 projects.
Established in 2021, the web 3 start-up focuses on curating a global entertainment ecosystem that caters to virtual reality users, influencers and creators.
Back in September, another mateverse start-up MetaFi managed to raise $3 million in its new funding round to build its first product— the Trading Metaverse.
In the same month, the UAE government organised Meta Congress and created the first Metaverse Ministry, signalling its determination to nurture and foster innovation in the country.