Monday 03, April 2017 by Jessica Combes

The top 100 funded startups in MENA have raised over $1.42 billion in funding

MAGNiTT has released its research on the founders of MENA’s top 100 funded startups. 

MAGNiTT analysed the backgrounds of the founders of MENA’s most successful startups, ranked by total disclosed funding. The top 100 startups together have raised over $1.42 billion in funding, and each startup has raised more than $500,000 individually. 

Key takeaways from MAGNiTT’s research include: 

1. Team structure:
The 100 Startups, including the likes of Careem, Souq and Fetchr, are made up of a total of 189 founders. Research also shows that 40 per cent of startups were created by sole founders; up to 79 per cent were either sole or two founders which is higher than international comparisons where 69 per cent are made up of teams of two or three founders, and in MENA, 12 per cent of successful founders are female in comparison to 15 per cent in the EU and 17 per cent in the US 

2. Experience:
Research showed that on average in MENA, founders had nine years worth of experience before starting their companies in comparison to the US unicorns that had six years. 

“Entrepreneurship has multiple challenges including growing a business, raising funds and developing a strong team and culture. The data highlights that founders in the region have often come from corporate backgrounds. This indicates that the experience and knowledge provides them with the tools to tackle and overcome such issues,” said Philip Bahoshy, Founder, MAGNiTT.

The research shows that 41 per cent of the startup founders graduated from MBAs including Harvard, INSEAD and LBS; 35 per cent of founders came from Management Consulting and Banking backgrounds; MENA founders demonstrate a higher technical background with 48 per cent graduating with IT or Engineering degrees, and 35 per cent of founders previously had startup experiences in the region with Yahoo Maktoob, Dubizzle, Bayt and Zawya alumni making up eight per cent of the top 100 MENA startup founders 

Bahoshy added that such individuals are likely to have the cash to bootstrap, experience to deal with the regulatory environment and perseverance to succeed in a nascent ecosystem. 

3. Geography:

Approximately 68 per cent of MENA startup founders originate from the Middle East, despite many having dual citizenship. The data highlights that 38 per cent of MENA’s 100 startup founders are from Lebanon and Jordan with only 16 per cent of startups headquartered there, and while the UAE hosts 50 per cent of MENA’s top funded startups, only one per cent of founders are UAE nationals

“While celebrating the tremendous success of the likes of Souq and Careem, both of whom have founders with a wealth of experience, our research highlights areas that can be developed and fostered through policy changes and investment to further help shape the startup ecosystem across MENA,” said Bahoshy.


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