Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, said it awarded up to 7.65 million Saudi riyals ($2.04m) in new seed grants and venture funds to four Saudi start-ups.
The funding was announced during the final Wa’ed 2021 Entrepreneurship Roadshow stop in Makkah. With this, Wa’ed has now provided more than 43.6m riyals in financial aid to 28 Saudi entrepreneurs throughout the entire roadshow campaign.
“By supporting the most disruptive and tech-focused Saudi-based start-ups and opening applications to all qualified entrepreneurs, Wa’ed’s Entrepreneurship roadshow represented the ideal platform to show emerging innovations led by younger entrepreneurs,” Fahad Alidi, managing director at Wa’ed, said.
It was the “perfect opportunity for Wa’ed to provide them with the needed financial and entrepreneurial support to grow”.
Organised in partnership with Wadi Makkah Ventures, the investment joint stock company fully owned by Umm Al Qura University, the sixth and final stop in Wa’ed’s roadshow involved tech-focused start-ups from various sectors.
Wa’ed also recommended seed grant for 75,000 riyals to the start-up Slates, which is a web browser extension that allows people to save, organise and share their internet discoveries in collections.
It recommended 50,000 riyals grant to CensorIT – a Saudi platform for Internet of Things solutions and applications – and 25,000 riyals to Naseej Market, an online marketplace connecting local buyers to local artists, designers and independent shops.
Created as a wholly-owned venture of Aramco in 2011, Wa’ed has disbursed more than 400m riyals in venture capital investment, loans and incubation services to more than 100 kingdom-based start-ups.
Start-ups in Saudi Arabia attracted a record $168m worth of venture capital funding through 54 transactions in the first half of 2021, according to data platform Magnitt. This is about 94 per cent of the money extended to the kingdom’s start-ups in 2020.
Wa’ed also said it has invested 7.5m riyals in Lamaa, the Saudi-based FinTech start-up that offers financing solutions for small and medium enterprises. This venture investment was part of a 19m riyals round, co-led with Raed Ventures.