The top 5 Egyptian startup sector developments of 2020

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Over the last couple of years, Egypt has established itself as one of the heavyweights when it comes to tech and startups on the African continent.

In 2020, the local startup scene saw more funding flow in, and startups innovating across the country, but what were Disrupt Africa’s big five developments from the year?

Vezeeta raises big

In February, Egyptian e-health startup Vezeeta raised a US$40 million Series D funding round. Launched in 2015 in Cairo, Vezeeta allows more than four million patients across four countries to search, book and review the best doctors and medical services in just one minute. It also provides innovative SaaS solutions to more than 30,000 healthcare providers listed on its platform.

The startup’s US$40 million round was led by Gulf Capital and joined by existing investor Saudi Technology Ventures (STV). The fundraising will be used to support Vezeeta’s mission to empower patients in Middle Eastern and African markets with its integrated digital healthcare platform. The startup has become a mainstream digital leader of e-health solutions, enabling patients to search, book and review the best doctors and medical services in just one minute. 

Egyptian fintech is spreading into new markets

A host of Egyptian fintech startups raised funding and started moving into new markets in 2020, with two companies in particular leading the charge. In June, MoneyFellows, a financial enabler that digitises money circles, secured a US$4 million Series A investment to fund its expansion across Africa and various new product launches.

In August, meanwhile, Paymob raised a US$3.5 million funding round to grow its merchant network and accelerate regional expansion, with the startup targeting further expansion in Africa and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Paymob is an infrastructure technology enabler providing payment solutions to empower digital financial service providers through mobile wallet technology.

Cairo Angels gets busier

Cairo Angels already has a formative role within Egypt’s tech ecosystem, having been the country’s first formal network of angel investors, investing in and supporting startups and early-stage, high-growth businesses. But the organisation started expanding its impact in 2020.

First, it launched the “We’ve Got Your Back” initiative in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, before rolling out a fundraising consultancy for early and growth stage startups operating in the Middle East and Africa. Then, in November, it announced a syndicate investment fund to back pre-Series A startups in Africa and the Middle East.

Angel networks proliferate, and partner

Aside from Cairo Angels, angel networks in general had a busy year across Africa. Launched at the end of 2019, AUC Angels was very active, investing in the likes of ILLA and Ordera. Alexandria Angels was also busy, backing Mumm.

Networks are also increasingly working together on investments, a great sign of ecosystem maturity. All three networks mentioned here invested in fintech startup ElGameya, while Cairo and Alex Angels partnered to invest in co-working space provider AlMaqarr.

More funding on the horizon

Egyptian startups led the way for total funding secured across Africa in 2019, and latest figures suggest 2020 was another good year. And even more money is flooding into the local startup ecosystem. Two key new funds stand out.

In October, Hasan Haider and Sharif El-Badawi, the former managing partners of 500 Startups’ MENA-focused 500 Falcons fund, launched their own investment vehicle – the US$60 million +VC. Meanwhile, in November, Foundation Ventures, a regional venture capital firm founded at the start of 2019, announced the close of its first Egypt-focused fund, with four investments made so far.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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