Emerging Markets Spotlight: Middle East

Egypt, Turkey, and the UAE

Sree Kolli
4 min readSep 16, 2020

We’re thrilled to present the second of four installments at Conduit that focuses on emerging markets, detailing vertical-agnostic startup leaders in distinct regions. In the second part of our series, our team sat down to evaluate the booming tech ecosystem in the Middle East.

In this report, we focused specifically on three regions: Egypt, Turkey, and the UAE. During the first half of last year, startups across the Middle East received $471 million in investments, up 66 percent from the $283 million invested over the same period in 2018.

Egypt has seen a recent spike in the number of VC-backed companies, paired with an explosion of activity from international funds, incubators, and accelerators over the last handful of years. Layered on top of funding and support via government initiatives, the Egyptian startup scene offers an attractive hub for entrepreneurs in the region.

Investments across Turkey surged 62% in 2019 alone, paired with 13 exits in 2019. According to a report by Turkish daily newspaper Dünya, a total of 92 enterprises received $101.7 million in investments over the duration of last year. Tech activity and foreign investment have been heavily weighted towards startup hotbeds in Istanbul and Ankara.

In the United Arab Emirates, Uber completed a marquee $3.1 billion deal in January of 2020 for the acquisition of Dubai-based vehicle-for-hire company Careem. The Careem deal offered a glimpse into the future of the region, further supported by government stimulus packages targeting the startup ecosystem.


Maxab is a B2B supply-chain consolidation marketplace, founded by Belal El-Megharbel in 2018. The platform enables grocery stores to order shipments directly from manufacturers via a mobile app, eliminating all intermediaries in the supply chain. Valued at $45 billion, the Egyptian food retail market is highly lucrative and ripe for disruption.

Halan is an Egyptian ride-sharing startup founded in 2017 by Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen, recently closing a $15 million funding round. The Cairo-based company offers rickshaw and motorcycle ride-sharing in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, while recently expanding into logistics and food delivery, signing fast-food chains like KFC and McDonald’s.

Yumamia is a Cairo-based food delivery startup helping people eat healthy at home. Founded in 2014 and fueled by a recent $2.8 million seed round, the startup offers rapid delivery services for clean and healthy food while boasting delivery in a 60-minute window.


Ikas is a cloud based POS software for retailers. The Ankara-based omnichannel management platform recently closed a $6 million round from Qnbeyond Ventures, the investment arm of Turkish bank QNB Finansbank. Founded in 2018, the platform leverages its marketplace management solution that allows sellers to list their product catalogue with a single click, while managing the inventory and orders (both from online and offline stores) automatically.

Getir offers deliveries of fast-moving consumer goods, recently securing $38 million from a group of Silicon Valley investors led by venture capitalist Michael Moritz. Following Moritz, a number of investors from Brazil and Turkey provided an additional $13 million in funding.

NaturalTV is one of the most viewed satellite TV channel broadcasting across Africa to more than 900 million people. Based in Ankara with a recently closed Series A funding round, NTR TV is now broadcasting to more than 40+ countries via broadband satellites.


Ekar is a pay-as-you-go car-sharing service from Dubai that’s on track for a fleet size of more than 10,000 cars with at least 1 million registered users by 2021. Founded in 2016 by Ravi Bhusari and Vilhelm Hedberg, the company secured $17 million in funding last year to support its regional expansion goals, starting a launch in the Saudi market.

FloraNow enables local retailers to shop directly for floral products from suppliers and farmers around the globe, including Colombia, Thailand and the Netherlands. Since its launch in Dubai in 2016 by Charif Mzayek, FloraNow disrupted the cut flower retail market in the UAE while quickly expanding into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region’s imported-flowers market.

Trukker is an Abu Dhabi-based moving and packing company that’s quickly expanding into the Egyptian market. Founded by Gaurav Biswas in 2016, Trukker recently closed a $23 million round intended to scale its platform as it branches into Jordan and the rest of the MENA region.

At Conduit, we connect the world’s best operator-investors and founders building the next generation of startups around the world.

As we scale our platform, understanding key market shifts across verticals will become increasingly vital. Our team will be digging deeper into emerging trends and first movers in the coming weeks, which you can find here.



Sree Kolli

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