Number of Saudi SMEs climbs to nearly a million

Venture capital funding stood at about $827m in the first nine months of 2022

The Riyadh skyline. Saudi Arabia’s economy grew by 12.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2022. Reuters
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The number of small and medium enterprises registered in Saudi Arabia grew by close to 10 per cent to about a million by the end of the third quarter of 2022.

The Arab world’s largest economy registered 978,445 SMEs by the end of September, up from 892,063 in the preceding quarter, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday, citing the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority.

Funding from venture capitalists stood at 3.1 billion Saudi riyals ($826.67 million) in the first three quarters of this year, a 93 per cent increase from the same period in 2021.

Investment in the FinTech sector more than quadrupled during the period, with 22 deals, the SPA report said.

VC funding for start-ups in the Mena region rose 20 per cent annually to more than $2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2022, putting it on track to potentially surpass the total investments attracted last year, according to data platform Magnitt.

Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia retained the top three positions in funding value and number of deals, capturing more than 75 per cent of overall Mena investments.

Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy away from oil as part of its Vision 2030 programme.

The kingdom is developing projects across sectors such as property, infrastructure, petrochemicals, transport and hospitality in a push to attract investment and boost employment.

The Saudi economy is expected to grow at its quickest pace in a decade and could be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Saudi Arabia’s economy grew 12.2 per cent in the second quarter, exceeding initial estimates and registering the fastest expansion in more than a decade on the back of higher oil prices.

Gross domestic product is forecast to expand 7.6 per cent this year, from 3.2 per cent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund, while Saudi investment bank Jadwa Investment has projected output this year at 8.7 per cent.

The country is forecast to be a vital driver of global trade growth, with its exports expected to expand at an average annual rate of more than 7 per cent to $354 billion by 2030, Standard Chartered said this year.

In October, top oil producer Saudi Aramco launched a programme to hasten the growth of SMEs in Saudi Arabia and boost their contribution to the country’s economic development.

The Taleed programme focuses on sustainable SME growth across several sectors through a portfolio of 20 initiatives, providing a “wide range” of support such as capability building, strategy development, training, market access, advisory services and business planning, Aramco said at the time.

The company has also established a $1.5 billion sustainability fund to invest in “breakthrough” technology and start-ups that will help to address climate change.

The fund, managed by Aramco’s venture capital arm, will invest in technology that supports the energy company’s 2050 net-zero goals while helping to develop new lower-carbon fuels.

It will initially focus on areas such as carbon capture and storage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and hydrogen.

Updated: December 07, 2022, 7:16 AM