Dubai tech start-up alfii raises $2.5m to fuel growth

The new funds will be used on building engineering and product talent

Dina Mohammad-Laity with Yousef Albarqawi and Becky Jefferies, founders of Dubai-based start-up alfii. Photo: alfii
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Dubai-based tech start-up alfii raised $2.5 million in a pre-seed funding round as the company aims to expand its team and further develop its product offerings.

The latest funding round was led by Preface Ventures, the US-based venture capital firm that focuses on infrastructure enterprise companies, an early-stage venture fund Kayan Ventures, Dubai-based investment company Aditum Ventures and venture capitalist Wayfinders, alfii said on Thursday.

Launched in November, alfii said it will “invest heavily” on engineering and product talent and focus on building its FinTech powered human resource automation platform.

The near-term focus for alfii will be building a suite of innovative payroll features that provide clients with “smarter, faster ways to manage payroll and salary disbursements, drastically simplifying a process that is typically tedious and time-consuming for HR owners”, the company said.

“We are looking to build the next generation of this product class, and we are building it entirely in-house – which means we need to bring on world-class talent to grow our business and better serve our customers,” said Yousef Albarqawi, alfii’s chief executive and co-founder.

The start-up said it will gradually introduce a pipeline of new features to address more core HR processes – such as onboarding, time-tracking, time off and leave management – ultimately covering the full employee life-cycle.

Since its inception, more than 250 businesses have signed up to the platform across the region. Its customers are spread across various countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Alfii, which was bootstrapped in the beginning, said it will continue to focus on growing in the UAE market while also looking to Saudi and Egypt markets to increase its customer base.

Currently, the majority of its customers are based in the UAE and the start-up aims to serve the broader Middle East and North Africa region, particularly start-ups and SMEs.

“There is a clear opportunity within the Mena region for this type of start-up- and SME-focused solution, as we continue to see first-hand that HR teams are under-resourced and overwhelmed,” Becky Jefferies, co-founder and chief marketing officer of alfii, told The National.

“We are hugely excited to have such a strong line-up of investors on board as we pave the way for better solutions in our region.”

Alfii is a self-serving, cloud-based HR automation platform. Users can sign up and start using the platform in minutes with no integration or sales team involvement required.

An HR leader or business owner can sign up to the platform, set up their company profile, invite their employees, and immediately start managing documents, employee data, payroll, paid time off, and more.

“With alfii's all-in-one software suite, companies will be able to better understand and manage their human capital resources while improving the user experience for employees with features like digital-to-cash remittances, benefits selection,” said Farooq Abbasi, general partner of Preface Ventures.

Gulf countries are investing in growing an entrepreneurship ecosystem as they look to diversify their economies and fuel post-pandemic growth.

The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns – start-ups valued at more than $1 billion – by 2031, in its push to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Last year, the country launched the Entrepreneurial Nation initiative to offer support through a series of public-private partnerships that will help entrepreneurs to set up operations in the Emirates, expand their businesses, export products and tap into online sales.

Updated: July 06, 2023, 7:00 AM