STV teams up with Meta to support tech start-ups in Mena

Agreement aims to boost entrepreneurial ecosystem and build community's capability in the region

The Riyadh skyline. Start-ups in Saudi Arabia attracted a record $548 million worth of venture capital funding through 139 transactions in 2021. Reuters
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Technology venture capital fund STV has joined forces with Facebook’s parent company Meta to support technology start-ups in Saudi Arabia and the wider Mena region.

The agreement, which intends to boost entrepreneurial ecosystem and build community's capabilities, will also grow STV's portfolio through Meta marketing and platform solutions.

Quote
Now, more than ever, businesses and communities in our region rely on our platforms, products and tools to engage with customers and expand their reach and their online presence
Fares Akkad, Meta’s regional director for Mena

Through its partnership with STV, Meta aims to enhance its investment in Saudi Arabia — the Arab world’s biggest economy — and the Mena tech ecosystem by “building technical capabilities for SMB [small and medium business] owners, upskilling entrepreneurs and supporting marketers and developers”, said Fares Akkad, Meta’s regional director for Mena.

“As a priority market for Meta, we are keen on growing the wider tech ecosystem in the country [Saudi Arabia] … now, more than ever, businesses and communities in our region rely on our platforms, products and tools to engage with customers and expand their reach and their online presence.”

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, regional start-ups keep booming as they attract increased financing to support their operations.

Start-ups in Saudi Arabia attracted a record $548 million worth of venture capital funding through 139 transactions in 2021, data platform Magnitt says. FinTech start-ups closed 19 per cent of total deals in the kingdom last year.

Total financing from venture capital funds in the Middle East surged 132 per cent to almost $2 billion last year, with the total number of deals up 5 per cent to 410, Magnitt found.

The STV and Meta partnership will build technical capabilities through education and awareness for the entrepreneurs, marketers and developers, the two companies said in a joint statement. It will also help STV portfolio companies through strategic and financial incentives provided by Meta.

STV is the largest independent technology venture capital fund in Mena with more than $500m in capital. It began operations in 2018 and has offices in Riyadh and Dubai.

It was an early investor in ride-hailing company Careem, which was later acquired by Uber for $3.1bn. It has also backed Egypt’s online healthcare start-up Vezeeta and UAE-based Trukker.

“The importance of social platforms like Meta’s for customer engagement and brand management led us to explore partnerships where we can support our portfolio in this area,” STV said.

“We have seen how crucial online marketing is for scaling the new wave of business and digital champions … the Middle East has one of the highest consumption rates globally, which is reflected in the substantial allocation of venture capital raised towards these channels.”

Updated: May 18, 2022, 2:07 PM
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