Saudi Aramco's Wa'ed teams up with UK's Maydan to boost FinTech start-ups in kingdom

Agreement will focus on companies that develop ethical and inclusive financial services

Between January and August 2021, Saudi Arabia registered 16 venture investments in FinTech with a total deal value of $157.2 million, according to Fintech Saudi. EPA
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Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Saudi Aramco's entrepreneurship arm Wa’ed, has teamed up with Maydan Capital to boost FinTech start-ups that develop ethical and inclusive financial services.

The agreement aims to help companies expand, gain more customers and secure new funding in the kingdom.

“With a shift towards the globalisation of FinTech, this strategic partnership will allow early-stage Saudi FinTech start-ups to leverage the global experience of the Maydan team in ethical investment,” Muhammad Hassan, chief investment officer of Wa’ed Ventures, said.

The FinTech industry in Saudi Arabia has grown significantly in recent years.

Between January and August 2021, the kingdom registered 16 venture investments in FinTech with a total deal value of $157.2 million, according to Fintech Saudi. This is a significant increase from 2020 (seven venture investments worth $7.8m) and 2019 (six venture investments worth $18m).

Overall, start-ups in Saudi Arabia attracted a record $548m worth of venture capital funding through 139 transactions in 2021, according to data platform Magnitt. Fintech startups closed 19 per cent of total deals in the kingdom last year.

Created as a wholly-owned venture of Aramco in 2011, Wa’ed has disbursed more than 400m riyals ($106.7m) in venture capital investment, loans and incubation services to more than 100 kingdom-based start-ups.

UK-based Maydan Capital is an equity investment platform that connects ethical investors with technology-focused, halal investment opportunities.

Through this partnership, it will let its members to co-invest alongside Wa’ed Ventures into innovative Saudi start-ups. The two companies will collaborate on finding, backing and mentoring founders as they launch and grow their ethically focused start-ups, they said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The agreement aims to accelerate the start-up ecosystem in Saudi Arabia and create a hub focused on championing companies that develop ethical financial services, they added.

It will also play a key role in supporting economic diversification in the country, in alignment with the kingdom’s goal of creating a knowledge-based economy.

This partnership is a “win-win for both parties, as well as consumers that will ultimately benefit from the next generation of ethically-focused FinTech firms that we back”, Safdar Alam, chief executive of Maydan, said.

“More than ever, we need to prioritise a more sustainable sector and the only way to achieve this is by collaborating with organisations that share our vision for the future. We look forward to … find the best talent and shape a better financial services sector that reflects the morals and values of consumers,” he added.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 3:06 PM