Abwaab, an educational technology start-up based in Jordan, raised $20 million in funding that will help the company expand into new markets.
The investment, after a $5m seed round in March, positions Abwaab as one of the best-funded regional EdTech start-ups in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, a region with 160 million students.
“Our mission since inception has been to make learning more accessible, affordable and fun by building a comprehensive ecosystem that changes the way students learn, while also equipping them with the tools needed to get ahead in life,” Hamdi Tabbaa, co-founder and chief executive of Abwaab, said in a statement.
The EdTech sector in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to grow to Dh26 billion ($7.07bn) by 2027 as the shift to digital education accelerates owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Report Linker study. The widespread adoption of smartphones, interactive displays and other digital learning tools will drive the growth.
EdTech ecosystems in emerging venture markets had great investor traction in 2020, with 31 deals raising more than $40m for EdTech start-ups in Mena last year, according to data platform Magnitt. Mena-based EdTech start-ups have raised 39 per cent fewer deals so far this year, with a 38 per cent drop in capital deployed year to date.
In addition to Abwaab securing funding this year, other Mena-based EdTech companies that secured major financing in 2021 include UAE-based almentor.net, Saudi Arabia’s Jeel Platform and Jordan’s Edunation.
Overall, funding to Mena start-ups rose 64 per cent to $1.2bn in the first half of 2021, with food and beverage, FinTech and e-commerce companies attracting record investment from venture capital firms, Magnitt data revealed.
Abwaab experienced strong growth during the pandemic-induced lockdown, which prevented children from attending normal classroom instructions. Its platform is designed for secondary school pupils, offering content tailored to local curriculums to fill the gaps in educational resources available online.
Children can take part in lessons, receive feedback and join discussion boards through web and native apps, making alternative education highly accessible while tackling the region’s high dependence on offline tutoring.
“Abwaab is on a clear path to establishing themselves as market leaders within the region and we are proud to have had the chance to further deepen our partnership with them,” Abdulaziz Shikh Al Sagha, venture partner at Beco Capital, said.
Abwaab was launched in 2019 by Hamdi Tabbaa, Sabri Hakim and Hussein AlSarabi. The start-up said its number of active users had grown tenfold in the 2020-21 academic year.
With the acquisition of Pakistani EdTech start-up Edmatrix, Abwaab is competing on a regional level, offering micro-lessons that match each country’s national curriculum.